So, its been a few days since my last post and I am no longer in a waiting period, unfortunately the decision this time didn't go the way I'd have liked it to but it is a good opportunity for me to trust God in the situation. Anyway on to the topic, last night after church I got into a lengthy discussion with a guy I hadn't met before, we predominantly discussed two things, the first which I may write an article on later was to do with whether certain activities should be taken part in by Christians and the second was faith and exactly what that is, it is that I want to look at here.
Firstly what I want briefly look at is what I think is often a common misinterpretation of faith by many Christians, particularly in my generation, then I want to again briefly look at some reasons as to why these misinterpretations might be occuring and whether it matters. Finally I will look at what faith is and the sort of faith that I think we should be striving for.
The Misinterpreted Faith
There are of course lots of misinterpretations of faith, in this case I'm focusing only on one, that being one that mixes faith and feelings. A common thing I hear these days is about 'feeling God's presence'. Before I go on I should state that I am in no way stating here that people do not feel God's presence or that doing so is a bad thing. My point here is that feeling God's presence is not a sign of strong faith. Put another way, not feeling God's presence is in no way a sign of a lack of faith.
Why The Confusion?
So where has this idea that feelings and faith are somehow intertwined come from? Why do we have this notion that if we're not feeling God our faith is somehow deficient? I think the simplest explanation here is the most likely, that being, we're taught it. It is common in many of our churches these days for people to be taught based on feelings, that God will 'make them happy', that they should be 'feeling God's presence' churches are often intentionally or unintentionally, giving people the impression that unless they are feeling God's presence something is wrong. The implication to those not feeling God's presence is then that there is a problem with them, a problem with their faith. If all these people around me can feel God, why can't I?!
Does this really matter?
I began to touch on this in the previous paragraph, the problem with this is that it leads people to a misunderstanding of one of the most important parts of Christianity, it leads people to despair about the lack of feelings they are experiencing and in the end they either believe they have no faith and blame themselves, or they blame God. The consequences of this can indeed be very serious.
Real Faith and the Faith I Want
Now as I've said that faith is not a feeling, what then is it?
Well, the Bible gives us a definition, Hebrews 11:1 says:
'Now Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen'
Faith is simply put trusting in God and when is it most difficult to trust? Is it when you have an overwhelming presence of God? No it isn't. The hardest time to trust God is when things are going wrong, when you look around you and all you can see is darkness but still you trust God, still you give thanks to God.
Real faith is like this, where no matter what the situation we still have faith, that even if we are in the most desperate of situations, where all of our strength had gone, we still turn to God. That even in the times where we can't feel God at all, the times where it feels like God has abandoned us, the times when we doubt whether God even exists, it is at those times that when we still turn to God that we'll be demonstrating true faith and that is the faith i'm aiming for.