All of us want to know what the future holds. People turn to fortune tellers, Ouiji boards, astrology, psychics, and other things in an effort to predict the future. As Christians, we know these are futile. When faced with a decision, we struggle with which way we should go. We pray about it, we evaluate the alternatives, we consult with trusted friends. All of this helps, but there is still uncertainty. As the time comes to make a decision, we must choose one path or the other.
In our prayers, we may plead with God; we may argue with him asking him, telling him to guide us; to make it crystal clear what path we should take. While I don’t deny that God may tell us “do this” or “do that,” our guidance usually comes from a relationship with Him. We pray, we weigh the alternatives, we may get a feeling that a certain direction is the right one. Our friends may support our direction but usually we don’t know for certain. And we don’t like uncertainty. Why doesn’t God just tell us outright what to do? I think the answer is found in Hebrews 11:6 (NASB) “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”
This passage does not refer to a blind, gullible faith. I am reminded of the story about a farmer who looked up in the sky and saw the letters “GPC.” He interpreted this as God’s word to him that he should Go Preach Christ. When he was relating this to a friend, the friend responded “Maybe it means Go Plant Corn.” The Book of Hebrews is an exercise in evidence and logic. The writer is focusing on true faith over insincere works. Robot-like obedience without legitimate trust in God is worthless. Hebrews is a tribute to Old Testament figures whose actions prove their faith.
Notice the importance God places on faith. If we don’t have faith, we can’t please Him. If we have a complete understanding of a situation, we do not have an opportunity to exercise faith. For me, that is the trouble with blind, robotic faith. If we say “God told me to do this or that,” and we follow that belief, we are not exercising faith, we are obeying perceived orders. It needs to be coupled with common sense. God wants us to have faith in Him, not in our feelings.
A person I know got a very strong impression from God that he was not going to contract the COVID-19 virus. That did not give that person a license to act irresponsibly, congregating in large groups, not taking sanitary precautions, totally ignoring the threat of the disease. He needed to exercise common sense, he needed to take actions to make him less susceptible to contracting the disease. “I have faith that I will not contract the disease if I act responsibly,” should be his attitude. Not “I’m bullet-proof, God told me I am not going to get the disease.”
Faith also requires action. If we pray for a job, we don’t sit home waiting for the phone to ring. We go out searching for a job, submitting applications, taking action. James dealt with this interplay between faith and works. Chapter 2:14-20 (ERV) “My brothers and sisters, if a person claims to have faith but does nothing, that faith is worth nothing. Faith like that cannot save anyone. Suppose a brother or sister in Christ comes to you in need of clothes or something to eat. And you say to them, ‘God be with you! I hope you stay warm and get plenty to eat,’ but you don’t give them the things they need. If you don’t help them, your words are worthless. 17 It is the same with faith. If it is just faith and nothing more—if it doesn’t do anything—it is dead. But someone might argue, ‘Some people have faith, and others have good works.’ My answer would be that you can’t show me your faith if you don’t do anything. But I will show you my faith by the good I do. You believe there is one God. That’s good, but even the demons believe that! And they shake with fear. You fool! Faith that does nothing is worth nothing. Do you want me to prove this to you?”
Faith manifests itself in works. Works without faith is mere activity and demonstrates a non-existent, dead faith. Notice too, that belief alone does not save us. The demons believe in God. No works, no faith. Complete understanding, no faith.
In Mark 9;24, a father exclaims “I believe. Help my unbelief.” This man was being genuine. He desperately wanted his son to be healed. He believed Jesus COULD heal him, but he had doubts IF Jesus would heal him. Doubts do not show evidence of a lack of faith, it shows we are human. The fully-human Jesus expressed doubts “if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” If Jesus had doubts, it’s ok for us to have them too.