I wonder how often we as Christians live unhappy, joyless lives because we haven’t really paid attention to the Biblical nature of faith? Luke 8:22-25 tells the familiar story of the disciples’ fear when they were on a stormy sea with Jesus in the boat. As they crossed the sea, Jesus took a nap. A violent windstorm descended to the point that the boat was filling with water. Some in the boat were fishermen with life long experience on this sea. They had seen storms before and knew the danger they were facing. They had likely lost friends to a stormy sea and knew that this was a life threatening situation.
They woke Jesus and cried out, “Master, we are perishing.” In unequivocal language they expressed their fear and the expected the outcome of their situation. The story is clear. The boat was being swamped. Certainly they had tried everything within their expertise to alleviate their predicament. In spite of all their attempts, they were in genuine danger of dying.
Jesus woke up and put an end to the storm. He then looked to them saying, “Where is your faith?”
This statement not only stunned the disciples it caused them once again to be afraid. It is one thing to be afraid of nature, but something altogether different to stand in fear before God. Jesus’ question informs us that our faith should be such that we do not react in the manner of the world to unsettling times and events. Emotional reactions to circumstances (such as panic, terror, agitation, loss of self-control, anger, accusation, etc.) are for those who have no hope, no security, no faith. They are not for those who travel with Jesus in life’s journey.
The Nature of Faith
Faith is a gift of God, not a product of our willpower. Whatever else faith may or may not be, when we try to generate faith through personal determination and rationality, it is not Biblical faith. Remember Ephesians 2:8-9. We are saved by grace through faith and if we live with Jesus, we will live by grace through faith.
Faith is not merely a feeling. While it is certainly true that God created as emotional beings, we are more than a wad of emotions reacting to our world according to our feelings. Genuine faith encompasses our intellect, emotion, and commitment to walk with Christ according to His Word.
Faith is not something that happens automatically or magically. Sometimes we think that faith is supposed to just ‘appear’ when the crisis moment hits us. This false notion could be described as a faith ‘thermostat’ that kicks in without any decision or conscious thought when we need it. We are called to choose faith in all of life’s circumstances just as much as we are called to choose Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Faith is an activity. Faith has to be exercised, to be put into practice. When Jesus asked the disciples, “Where is your faith?” its as if He said to them, “Why are you in panic mode? Why are you not using the faith I’ve already given you and applying it to this situation?”
This is a difficult story and lesson for all of us. Jesus was serious when He asked the disciples about their lack of faith. In the midst of a perilous situation, He expected them to keep their heads and react with a peaceful spirit and the knowledge that all was and always is in His capable hands.
If Jesus expects, no demands, that we exercise peaceful faith in the midst of a life threatening storm, how much more does He expect us to be at peace in ordinary, everyday life? We need to learn and apply the lessons of faith. We need to know and live in the nature of faith. We need to grow in faith so that we can face the trials and tempests of this life in a manner that is distinctively different from the world’s reactions. We must live by faith in a manner which points to the power of our salvation life found only in the Lord Jesus Christ. Where is your faith?
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