Compelled to Compare

Do you ever feel like your journey with God has to look like that of others around you?

Maybe you struggle with confidently following God when things you already don’t quite understand yourself, seem too spiritually risky to carry out?

Well, may I encourage you that our faith is not really our own — in the sense that we are the arbitrators of it. This means that the progress of our faith is not dependent upon us and our ability to, as the dictionary puts it: “decide a dispute or settle differences [in this case spiritual].” In fact, I think one of the largest obstacles to our faith in God is our readily we can become tangled up in the issues of faith rather than the Issuer. We see ourselves as one’s “fully empowered to examine the facts and decide the issue[s]” concerning what we will believe, rather than letting the questions and doubts that surface in our hearts lead us back to God, where everything began.

This is where Paul’s words to Timothy are necessary for us as well:

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and become convinced of, because you know those from whom you have learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 3:14-15).

There are a couple of important concepts here for defining our beliefs, that make this passage worth studying.

One points us back to where we began. If the gospel is our beginning — that marvelous truth that we were dead in our sins, but through faith in Christ we have been raised to new life in Him — than our foundation is sure. No, not on the foundations we like to make of our own accountability and achievement, but on Christ who began the work of salvation, and who alone can finish it.

Each day, when we face all manner of tests, may our faith look like this: “[I] do this by keeping [my] eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects [my]  faith” (Hebrews 12:2, New Living Translation).

Notice what the two verbs describing Jesus’ action indicate express about Christ.

1. they are objective — showing that Christ’s action regarding our faith must have an object — us

2. they are in the present tense –revealing that Christ is at work on our faith and the barriers to it right now.

Now, if we pull back a bit, we can see the broader scope of this verse; we are to realize that we depend on Christ for our faith. And He gives us faith to lead us back to Him. So that even learning about Him is a choice to be exercised upon by God, not exercise ourselves on Him. As we walk by faith, God is able to freely confirm the truth of who Christ is to us when our eyes are lifted from ourselves. Because working to obtain our salvation is no longer an obligation for us because of Christ, we can see our faith promoted by letting it be set in this reality: “For the Word of God is living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). “In the beginning there was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were made by Him and nothing was made without Him. In Him there was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it” (John 1:1-5).

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