Shameless Audacity: Faith Levels
If this is your first time to tune in for our Monday series, let me catch you up to speed. "Shameless Audacity" is a project my friend Cory has been working on for a while, and he was gracious enough to let me share it with you here. It's good stuff. We're more than halfway through, be sure to catch up on the beginning chapters:
In Texas, we have a saying. When we need to get through the words being said and to get to the heart of the matter, we call that, “cutting through the fat.” It doesn’t matter what words are being used, it matters what is being said. Words are just window dressing to the actual message.
In the last chapter, you will find these words:
Yes, theoretically God can heal any ailment, but, more pragmatically so, He allows things like Alzheimer’s to run their course to “teach us a lesson” or because it is “just their time.” God can heal families, but that alcoholic father of that child in the youth group sure seems to be beyond help.
I wrote those words. In a sense, I really meant those words. Those words seem harsh, but they still sound spiritual enough. But, if one takes those words and cuts away the extra, one would find one sad message: God is limited. No self respecting Christian would ever utter those words about his God, at least not so succinctly.
When it comes to faith, there seem to be three very distinct levels. The first level is the most basic faith. This level of faith brings the sinner to salvation with the belief that Jesus is God, but little beyond that. The second level is a faith based on intellect. This is the level that houses most of Christianity. This faith seeks God’s intervention in our lives, but only as much as we can understand. The third and final level is a faith based on the limits of God. C.H. Spurgeon describes the faith levels in these terms. There are those like the aged Simeon, who hold the baby Jesus in their arms and see the Consolation of Israel. There are others like the disciples who call Jesus the Rabbi of their faith. Finally, there are a choice few like John the Apostle, the Beloved of God, who see the Jesus of Revelation, standing with flaming eyes and the voice of many waters.
Remember our discussion on Hebrews 11? I said that all faith is based on experiences. This is not the same as a faith based on intellect. Faith has a backside and a front side. Think of it this way. The people in the Hall of Faith of Hebrews 11 had confidence in God based on their past experiences. Instead of standing comfortably in that confidence, they used it as motivation to press God to show Himself in even more amazing ways. The person on the second level of faith trusts God because of past experiences, but chooses to lean back on their confidence instead of leaning forward on the hope of greater things.
This calls another story from the Gospels to mind. In Mark 9, a man breaks through the excited crowd pressed against Jesus. He brought his son to the man from Galilee. The man’s son, being possessed by an evil spirit, threw himself to the ground, gnashed his teeth, and foamed at the mouth. The evil spirit had tormented the son since childhood. This poor father needed help. Jesus explained, “If you can believe, all things are possible to them that believe.” To this, the man owned his disgrace and cried out in tears saying, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” The Greek word for unbelief was apisitis (no faith), from the word pistis which means faith, trust, or confidence. The preceding word used for believe is pisteuo, meaning believe or trust. The man said, “Lord, I trust you, but help my lack of trust!”
This man found himself on the second level of faith with a third level of need. He trusted Jesus as far as he could understand, but struggled to see beyond the limitations of intellect. The typical choice in this type of situation would be to ask much and expect little. However, this man watched his son, his very flesh and bone, fall to the ground with painful, demon-induced seizures and refused accept it. He prayed a very unique prayer. He said, “Help my unbelief.” The word for help also means, “come to the rescue for.” In essence, he said to Jesus, “I am at the very edge of hope. I need help more than I need pride. Come to my rescue and save me from this lonely island of unbelief.”
It may take some serious effort to accept God as Father, learn to keep His name hallowed, understand disgrace, own disgrace, seek a need, and act on those needs. It may take serious effort, but all these things can be done without stretching the mind beyond its limits. Learning to live shamelessly takes a few personal changes, but can be done with very little impact on one’s life. Moving from the first level of faith requires about the same effort needed to step up one rung on a ladder. But, seeking God audaciously, moving to the third level of faith means climbing to the top of the ladder and jumping off!
Take an inventory of your faith along with me. Do your prayer requests go beyond your own limits? Do you seek God outside your own abilities? Do you pray that the Spirit of God will move in your church services or do you pray that the Spirit will move in your community instead? Do you pray for God to save one or for God to save some or for God to save all? One seems doable. One seems unlikely. One seems impossible. Do you pray for God to supply enough to pay your bills or for God to supply enough to fund a charity? Jesus said clearly, “You have not because you ask not.”
What if our churches truly sought God with audacious requests? It is said that five college students went to visit the church of Charles Spurgeon. During their tour of the church before Sunday services, they were surprised to find 700 people assembled in the boiler room, praying for the services. Even today, the exploits of C.H. Spurgeon and his church in England are still recounted. They received because they asked.
Revelation 3 has always broken my heart a little. In the message to the church at Laodicea, Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and eat with him, and he with Me.” I imagine the sight John described in Revelation 1. Jesus stands with eyes like fire, feet like brass, hair as white as wool, and a voice like the sound of many waters. This awe inspiring Savior holds the authority to stand anywhere He chooses, yet He stands outside the door, waiting for someone to turn the knob. As the members of Laodicea praise the power of God inside their church, He stands in the cold.
What does it take to move to the third level of faith? I’m not sure. I propose an experiment. Rather than foolishly test God with some outlandish fleece, I vow to pray for an audacious need. When God shows me for what strange, unexpected, “outside my intellect” need I should seek Him, I will seek it with the same passion with which I sought Him for the more basic needs in previous chapters.
Care to try it with me?
Lord, I want to seek You beyond my own understanding. I trust Your power because of the past, but I want to see Your future. Show me my need.
*To read more from Cory check back next Monday, or hop over to MinistryMall.org!*
This entry was posted on Monday, September 3, 2012 and is filed under Faith,Guest Posts,Prayer,Shameless Audacity. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.