A couple of weeks ago, we talked about how we tend to create boxes in our lives.... Boxes that define our world, and how we see it..... These boxes define — who we are — who God is — what love is — what the Church is — how we should live — serve — love — do things......
Do you remember that illustration?
As we create those boxes… What happens in our lives? (build a wall) And that wall eventually blinds us from seeing God. Amen?
I asked this question Wednesday night in Biker Church..... Let me ask you the same thing:
What is Faith?
(come on, throw some ideas out there!)
Do you see what we are doing here?
We are creating a box......
(use the “Faith” box — w/”You” written on the other side)
Faith — “Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” (Merriam-Webster)
Christians — the Church — defines faith as “Believing in things unseen.”
Can I tell you that NEITHER one of those definitions does faith justice! Neither one of these definitions can give us true understanding of faith....
Biblical Faith is more then these simple definitions.
Let me ask you this: What truly happens when we begin to construct these boxes? How do we construct them? (we use worldly ideas/philosophies)
When we build these boxes out of Worldly philosophies —worldly definitions, Yes! we soon find ourselves “blinded” from seeing God through them, but what we are really doing is this..... (turn box around revealing “You”)
We create boxes for ourselves!
Have you put yourself in a box?
Here’s the REAL problem with these boxes....
These “boxes” — which we think are so “insightful” and “world changing” — Are really smaller than we think.....
(pull small box “worldview” out of the bigger box)
Brothers and Sisters, there are people out there (and I pray you are not one of them) who call themselves “enlightened”.... Who think that they have it all figured out — that their understanding is greater and more correct then most other people (unless you think like them) — when really, they have put themselves in this little....tiny....box!
And the saddest thing is..... They can’t see daylight because of it!!!!
I saw an illustration a little while back that reveals this well....
(Christian vs Athiest circle ill.)
Church this is what we do to our faith when we start to “define” faith.... when we start to build these boxes.... (small circle, this is what defines our faith — This is HOW we define it!)
That kind of faith is conditional!
It is dependent on the definition....
It only fits into that little box.... anything that doesn’t, cannot be believed.... Cannot be held as true.... Cannot be accepted....
Can I tell you this? — Conditional faith will lead us to despair.
Because “conditional” faith causes us to “MISS” the big picture!
Look at Peter.
In Matt. 16 — Jesus asked him: “Who do you say I am?”
(look at his response)
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Look at the confidence in those words! Peter had no doubt! He knew who Jesus was......
Yet..... only a short time later — mind you this was only a matter of weeks, not months! — We find Peter denying Christ!
His faith was conditional..... It was conditional on the “box” he had created.... As soon as Jesus didn’t “fit” in that box — of who the Messiah was supposed to be, Peter’s faith failed....
Let me ask you this — look at this little tiny box — Do you really want a God that fits into this?!
That’s what Peter — and others — have done.... Put God in a little box.
Brother Carl gave us a great example of this last week.
Simon the Pharisee.
Luke calls him a pharisee, but all three of the other gospels call him “Simon the Leper.”
The question is “Why?” And its an important question....
There are a couple of explanations for this....
It is just a title. So Simon could have been a Pharisee who later contracted leprosy, and Matthew, Mark, and John just chose to use that title — the problem with that idea is that if he later became a leper, then what does it matter to this story?
The other explanation is that Simon was a pharisee who contracted leprosy, and was among those Christ healed. This makes much more sense. If he was one who Jesus healed, then his faith becomes a part of this story.
As Carl pointed out, Simon placed Jesus in a “box” that belittled Him and denied His power. Simply because Jesus was doing things that didn’t fit in his little box of faith!
Simon’s faith was conditional.... He required Christ to fit into that little box, he had created in order for him to have faith.
Do we do that? Do we have requirements that Jesus has to “fulfill” before we will have faith in Him? Do we only accept as true those things that “fit” in our little box?
Conditional faith is powerless.... because it reduces Christ....it reduces God....it reduces the gospel into a “manageable” little box!
It puts controls on the power of the gospel....
Conditional faith attempts to make the gospel “ours” instead of making us His...
Would you agree that “conditional” faith is not the kind of faith that God desires for us to have? (If you don’t agree, I’m gonna tell you you are wrong! lol!)
He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”
God’s desire is that we would have an “unconditional” faith in Him, because “Unconditional” faith moves mountains!
Unconditional faith allows for all the rest of this.... (point to the big circle) to become reality in our lives.
You see..... this is where God operates....
An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Then he left them and went away.
Can I tell you this? God will not be conformed to our little box.... He will not be moved by “conditional” faith.....
God operates in “unconditional” faith....
God shows us “unconditional” Love, amen?
Would you believe me if I told you that He does not ask us to have unconditional love for Him? (I know it sounds wrong, right!?)
Yes…yes… I know — “But pastor, the greatest commandment is....” True, but that is one commandment....
Do you realize that the entire rest of Scripture focuses on “Unconditional” faith..... Why?
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.
When Jairus — who came to Jesus to heal his daughter — receives the news that she has died, look at what Jesus tells him:
When Jesus heard this, he replied, “Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved.”
look at :
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
That word — “Believe” — is the Greek word “Pisteuon”. (it is the same word used in every one of these verses)
Pisteuon — “to believe to the extent of complete trust and reliance.”
Keep that definition in mind and look at verse 14-15.
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
What?! What is Moses’s connection here?
In Numbers 21
The Israelites had stood in opposition to God.... They had spoken out against Moses and Aaron, and as a result, God had sent vipers into their camp..... (I know that seem like a horrible thing, but look at what happens)
The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
And God tells him to make a snake and put it on a pole… (You do know this is where our EMS symbol comes from, right?) if those bitten will look “AT” the pole they will not die...
So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.
Notice that it says to look “AT” the serpent, not to look “TO” the serpent......
This is not about the idol.... it is not about the pole.... it is about faith!
To look “AT” the serpent meant that you had to have faith in the promise.... It meant that you had to have “Unconditional” faith..... This wasn’t just a “passing glance”....
Salvation is not about Christ dying.... It is not about the Cross....
Salvation is about “unconditional” faith in the promise that the Cross represents!
The Israelites were not saved by an idol on a pole..... They were saved by their “unconditional” faith in the promise of God.
I want you to see something important.... look at Luke 8:40-48
Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. Just then there came a man named Jairus, a leader of the synagogue. He fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, who was dying. As he went, the crowds pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians, no one could cure her. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. Then Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.” When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
There is something unique about this story..... Did you pick up on it?
Jesus did not “perform” this healing! This was not a “miracle” performed by Christ!
Look close at the story —
— this woman had been suffering for 12 years.....
She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse.
— she had spent all of her money on doctors.....
— she had endured the outrageous treatments of doctors and priests.... Some of them horribly painful and embarrassing....
but look at verse 27
She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak,
And she was “INSTANTLY” healed!!!!!
Now....look at Jesus’s reaction:
Then Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.”
His surprise at the event reveals that He did not “perform” this miracle..... But look at what He says to her:
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
This woman had every reason to give up.... She had every reason to “throw in the towel”.... to just quit on life.... crawl in a hole… and die..... She could have done that..... but....
She heard about this Jesus..... She heard about what He was doing.... and she knew.... she knew beyond the shadow of a doubt.... that He could heal her...... (and here’s the awesome thing)
She knew that He did not have to come to her..... He didn’t have to seek her out.... He didn’t have to reveal His desire to heal her..... All she had to do was look to Him… to get close.... to touch His robe.... He didn’t even have to know about her....
Can I tell you — That’s Faith!!!!! That is the Faith that moves mountains in our lives!!!!
Because it is “unconditional”.
It is not a faith that says, “Well, He can teach doctors how to cure this....”
It is not a faith that says, “He places government in place to take care of us and protect us....”
It is not a faith that says, “IF it is His will.....”
It is not a faith that says, “Well, maybe.....”
It is a faith that says, “He can!”
Do we have that kind of faith?!
When mountains pop up in our lives, do we have that kind of faith?
When we look at the Cross, do we look at it and KNOW that God has this?!
“Unconditional” faith moves mountains in our lives!
If we desire to see the power of God enacted in our lives…in our families…in our church.... then we have to move from this (conditional faith)… to an “Unconditional” faith.... That says to the enemy when he tells us we are weak....we are worthless… that our mountain is to big.... that God can’t do anything about it.....
“YES, HE CAN!”
Let me tell you...
We cannot live as “God’s People”....
We cannot be “Good Christians”.....
We cannot “Love our neighbor” or “love as He loved us”....
If we have “Conditional” faith, because....
To “Love with the Love that God loves us with” requires “Unconditional” Faith!
Look at Mt 18:2-4
He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
What does a child have that most adults do not?
Children naturally have faith....unconditional faith…in their parents — to feed them, to provide for them, to love them.
Children are not born cynical.....
Do we have that same faith in God?
or, Do we simply “say” we have faith, while we allow the world around us to dictate our faith?