If You're Walking By Faith - Get a good pair of shoes!

Friday, Sep 24 2010 10:26 AM

I was talking with a friend the other day.  “Walking by faith does not guarantee “positive” outcomes,” he said.  Oh, boy.  Not what I wanted to hear, but Bill was absolutely right.  Walking by faith in our relationship with God does not automatically produce financial blessing, or the resolution of a problem, or even a timely end of a difficulty. Rather, walking by faith is a thing unto itself.  In fact, if we do it well, walking with Jesus may even cause us more problems, not less.

Remember what Paul wrote to Timothy?  “Those that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).

In those days, persecution of Christians was a physical reality.  During the great persecution of Christians by the Roman Empire, Christians were fired from their jobs, had their property and goods confiscated – all for living godly in Christ Jesus.

Oh.  Wait a minute.  They lost their jobs, their homes and all their stuff?

Sounds quite a bit like what many of us are going through right now, doesn’t it?

So what is this all about?

You remember the story of Job.  He lost everything he had including his health, and he was the most righteous man on earth.  Theology in that day dictated that if you lived a righteous life, you were guaranteed great blessing and abundance.  But here’s Job, sitting in the ruins of his life, scraping the boils on his body with a piece of broken pottery.  Job badly wants to reconcile his experience with his theology.  He knows he’s lived a righteous life, even though his three “friends” accuse him of having sin in his life, which, they say, has caused this huge disaster in his life.  Instead of changing his theology, though, Job instead declares that God must be unrighteous; that’s why he’s lost everything.

Could it be possible that we have bought into the subtle lure of American theology that has asserted that walking by faith always secures blessing?  If so, we have a choice to make.  Will we blame God for our financial difficulties, or will we change our theology?

Let me throw something out there.  Could it be that God might actually be using financial disaster to remind us of a few things? 

Like, God is our source.  Like, it’s time to simplify our lives.  Like, when you get down to it, stuff is meaningless.  Like, the humiliation of losing our stuff is actually working godly humility in us.

Or maybe, this is an opportunity for evangelism.  Just maybe people who don’t know Christ need to see how a Christian goes through bankruptcy or receivership.  Maybe our neighbors need to see how a Christian loses their home, yet still trusts in God, still believes in God even in the bad times.

And, maybe we need to remember that we’re not living this Christian life by ourselves, but rather within community.  And, maybe those who have not experienced financial devastation need to consider their brothers and sisters who are in need.  That’s how New Testament Christianity worked, remember?  Acts 4:34-35 says, “There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.”

Most of all, maybe we need to remember that walking by faith is walking in relationship with Jesus and that is, and always has been, the priority.

Even though there are no positive guaranteed outcomes for walking by faith, God did restore Job’s life, his goods, and his family back to him.  But interestingly, Job never said, “Whew, am I ever glad the trial is over!”  Or, “Thanks so much, God, for giving me all my stuff back!”  Read what happened:

Then Job replied to the LORD:

 "I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know."You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.'  My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.

Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 41:1-6).

In the end, financial, physical and emotional disaster actually worked for Job’s good.  He got to actually perceive a God he had never known before – the One who created everything and owns everything; the God who is so much bigger than our paltry stuff.  And, then Job repented because he hadn’t ever really trusted in that massive God at all.

So, hang in there, my friend.  God knows exactly where you are.  Put on your best walking shoes and continue to do what God has set before you to do. Trust and love and believe in the incredible God who is walking with you – as you walk by faith!

 

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