The Word for today:
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20)
We talk a lot about believing.
But for the next couple of days, in order to understand belief from another angle, we’re going to observe its opposite, unbelief…
The first thing that needs to be understood is that, everything being equal, it is far easier to believe in God than not to believe.
Mark this down somewhere; paint it on the side of your car or the front of your house:
It takes one hell of an act of faith to disbelieve in the Bible and Jesus Christ.
Faith knows no vacuum, so there is no one who has no faith. Some might say they have no faith, but everybody believes–in one thing or another–because faith is the motivating principle of every person’s life; for better or for worse, every person’s life is a by-product of his faith.
Faith is a word that we, wrongly, almost always identify with religion. That is the biggest mistake we make when trying to understand faith. Many people do place their faith in what we think of as religion. But billions of others have a faith which is as far from any notion of religion as it can get. Martin Luther said, “Whatever your heart clings to and relies on is your god.” I point specifically to the word whatever in Luther’s statement. Faith can be whatever–it can be good, bad, true, false, religious, or irreligious. Whatever moves you to be who and what you are is your faith.
Another great mistake we make about faith is that we are always able to identify it! Many who claim to believe in one thing actually base their lives on something else. A person who claims his faith is in God might actually be living a life motivated by the almighty dollar. He will vehemently deny that the dollar is actually what he trusts, but his denials don’t change the fact that the buck is his god. (An irony of faith is that if a person hands me his checkbook and his day planner, I will tell him what he believes in–whether he acknowledges it or not.)
A person who says his faith is in the Christ of the Bible might actually believe not in Jesus but in belief itself: “If I just believe in something hard enough and sincerely enough, it will materialize.” There is no need for the personal hand of God in that equation because faith itself is what moves his world.
For some, their faith consists of the belief that everything will ultimately turn out good. They might even mix a little Jesus in there, and even a little cross and resurrection! But the resurrection for them is the proof–not the reason–that “Every gray sky will ultimately turn to blue!” Thus their positive faith has no foundation.
We’ve heard the phrase “blind faith.” There is a smidgen of truth in the phrase, since we believe in a God who, except in the incarnation of Jesus Christ 2000 years ago, we do not see. However, everything that we do see testifies to his reality. The beauty and order of creation cry out that there is a Creator. King David, in the Old Testament, said it this way:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge. (Psalms 19:1-2)
That’s what the stars are saying. Only a faith called unbelief can distort their unmistakable message.
Tomorrow, we’ll hear what a pocketful of pennies is proclaiming. See you then.