Recently, I attended a church service where the pastor asked us to pinpoint our individual levels of faith on a scale of 1 to 10.
To no one’s shock, nobody raised their hand to say they had no faith, and equally, no one raised their hand to say that they had the greatest level. Everyone seemed to think they fell somewhere in the middle. Why?
This is the problem. Often with faith, it isn’t a binary choice of faith vs no faith (doubt). Instead, our Christian lives lie somewhere on the spectrum
The opposite of faith is not doubt (where you question Gods ability or existence entirely), but instead self-sufficiency … because sometimes you think you’d be better off just handling ‘it’ yourself.
Although the Bible tells us that faith isn’t the result of hard work or diligence because it is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9), it also tells us that God “rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). In other words, God blesses those who in focusing on Him, listen to Him for His instruction, are obedient to His word, and who then depend on His word for guidance. This is faith; acting according to the belief in the certainty of what we hope for, and then being certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).
So how does self-sufficiency fit into this Well, when we act contrary to our trust in God, who we cannot physically see, what we are actually doing is taking it upon ourselves to bridge the gap between our own calling and capacity; means and dreams; prayers and answers.We end up not needing God to intervene because we have reduced the success of situations to be dependent on resources we can produce and use as a matter of our own immediate reality. You exist without addressing Him; you don’t need to experience Him as your provider and He becomes an optional add-on to a life you already believe you have covered.
Faith in God as saviour, like a flame without oxygen, gets smaller in size until it exists no more.
When there’s no gap between your goals and your ability, there’s no need for faith which means there’s no room for God to move in your life. Of course, what I’m not saying is that it’s impossible to achieve physical things without God. There are many non-believers who have accomplished great things without any belief in Him. But Christianity is about more than just ‘success’. It’s the belief that God is the source of all things good and so He is worth putting our entire existence in His hands.
I think it’s very easy to misplace our thoughts, forgetting that as Christians we’re not first and foremost ‘students’, ‘entrepreneurs’, ‘extroverts’ or ‘introverts’. We’re citizens of heaven, and that always has to be our driving force. Unfortunately, we’ll all find that it’s not just ‘worldly’ people who are enemies of God, but even those Christians who are fixated on the ‘best’ things this life has to offer and in striving after them, failed to make the ‘why’ for doing it a God-oriented purpose.
Remember, the very basic notion on which man’s sinful nature rests is shown to us in Genesis; the idea that man can do it better for himself. This is human nature, and Adam and Eve were its first “converts and victims” (Dr. Frankie O. Phillips). Trusting God in His word and thereby having faith, requires us to abandon all notions of self-sufficiency and sources of help outside of God. To walk in faith is to become God-dependent which may mean you have to take risks. Because if self-sufficiency is the enemy of faith, then risk is faith’s catalyst.
The Bible makes it very clear that only two options exist in relation to the directions which life can take. We either feed on the tree of life, or we take sustenance from the tree of knowledge (Genesis 2:9). The end of one direction is death while the end of the other direction is life everlasting, but both cannot be eaten simultaneously because we’re told that no one can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). The ‘knowledge’ the Bible speaks of is not telling us that we shouldn’t learn or seek wisdom, but rather, it’s a warning that what we are actually seeking is a way we can ‘do’ by our own strength, and this will have consequences on our dependency on God as our source and as a result, our faith