– Can we increase our faith in mechanical things? –
Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Proverbs 3:5-6 MSG
Christians around the world since the time Jesus walked amongst humankind have undoubtedly wondered about the authenticity of their relationship with the Lord. Of all the religions of the world, Christianity stands out so uniquely differently that I refuse to identify it as yet another of many religions … even though other religions tap into the God-designed moral and ethical codes of the Bible.
Humankind is ‘religious’ by nature because whether we humans may like it or not, acknowledge it or deny it, we are/were created in God’s image after His likeness (Genesis 1:26). Regrettably, many religions fashion their god after the likeness of those who created it! Some even make humankind – one that is devoid of ethical and moral constraints – a religion. No other ‘faith’ [belief system] evolves around the seeming impossibility of a transcendent deity, characterized by omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience, entering into the limitations of human capacity, time and space in the fully human, yet fully divine person of Jesus Christ. Jesus, Whose life, death and resurrection have been documented both in biblical and extra-biblical manuscripts. Serious scholars cannot escape the irrefutable [though often denied] historical proofs of the Person of Jesus Christ as attested by our Bible.
While sincere Christians may attempt to do what the disciples asked Jesus in Luke 17:5 – “Lord, increase our faith” – they simply cannot. At best, they can only add knowledge about Jesus Christ to what they already know. I do not deny that they can and do ask in prayer that the Holy Spirit will illuminate the scriptures which they cherish. But this is not increasing their faith, only their knowledge.
Yes, it can be said that they are being more faithful in diligently searching the Scriptures as the first century Bereans did – “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11). But so did the Pharisees, according to Jesus. John 5:39,40 records, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” And the apostle James informs us that even the devil has faith in God, as recorded in James 2:19 – “You believe that there is one God; you do well: the devils also believe, and tremble“. The faithfulness of the Bereans referred to above is more a comment about their due diligence; the motives of the Pharisees relate more to getting knowledge about the scriptures in order to fault Jesus and to justify their having Him killed. And the devil has known from the beginning that he is a defeated foe, cast from the presence of God.
So, are there any areas where faith, trust and confidence can absolutely be relied on and that are foolproof? While some may improve their self-confidence [increasing faith in one’s own ability] by sincere practise [like me playing the piano, or an athlete competing in the Olympics] this is hardly a fail-proof gift of faith that can be quantified.
This is clear in the realm of trusting material things, though I acknowledge the laws of nature can be trusted. That is why I am not inclined to climb up on the pinnacle of the Temple Mound in Jerusalem and jump off over the Wailing Wall so sacred to the Jews just to prove I have faith! I will not vainly succumb to the temptation the devil presented to Jesus to jump off the Temple Mound any time soon. Furthermore, God’s Word says, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God” (Matthew 4:7).
So … what about faith in material things? Can I increase my faith in them? While I may surround myself with many things, these can be annoyingly frustrating; particularly, for example, the sixty fine-printed pages in many manuals.
When one drives away from home in an automobile, it is with “faith in” a multitude of objects: that is, having faith [also known as trust, confidence, belief] in many aspects of the car (the tires won’t blow out at 100 kph, the brakes will always work when applied, the roads are reasonably hazard-free, most people share my driving habits, and the airbags will be deployed should there be, heaven forbid, any serious mechanical mishap – caused by other careless drivers, of course! – and so on.
When it comes to increasing my faith in my car, I do have some control. I can check the tire pressure, I can periodically have a mechanic check the brakes of my car, I can assess weather-related risks and so on. This is nothing more complicated than simply using discretion and avoiding foolish choices. It is not a matter of increasing my faith in the brakes of my car! How might the increase be measured … in foot-pounds?! No, faith in my brakes cannot be increased, no matter how hard I press down on the brake pedal. My faith either exists or does not exist!
And then there is ‘blind faith’, which I believe is naïve and has nothing to do with my relationship or the apostles’ relationship with Jesus when they asked Him to increase their faith. Sometimes I foolishly exercise blind faith on a busy highway (for example, through Toronto) when I make a lane change without carefully looking. This is a touchy-feely hoping that there won’t be a transport truck in my blind spot! It is not the same as having a confident expectation based upon God’s promises. In point of fact, there can be no confident expectation that my car brakes will never fail! And so on, with all material objects which I may fancy.
At the end of the day, I either have faith or I do not. And when it comes to religion, I choose to place my faith unwaveringly in the promises of the God Who says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
So … “Go now in peace; never be afraid. God will be with you, each hour of every day” (“Go Now in Peace” by Don Besig and Nancy Price). And … “Faithful is He who has called you Who will also bring it to pass” (1 Thessalonians 5:24). Amen.
With my prayer that you will grow in grace and in the intimate knowledge of Jesus our Lord,
To come –
- Part 3: Can we increase our faith in humanity?
- Part 4: What does an ‘increase in faith’ in God look like?
Our thanks to Paul Cornish for this devotion, one of many by various contributors posted by Haliburton United Church and Haliburton Pastoral Charge. If you would like to submit a devotion for consideration, please email us.
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