"FAITH happens when we invest in what God has given us."
Take soil for instance. God has provided soil into which we can plant seeds and from which we can grow food. When seeds are placed in the ground, with an expectation that one day they will produce a harvest, faith occurs. Faith is that small representation of a desired result that we invest in to that which God has given to us. Perhaps a recipe of sorts for faith is that which happens when we invest in that which God has given us.
According to Hebrews 11:1 “…faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.” When it comes to planting seeds the seed itself is not what you really want is it? What you really want is what the seed will produce. However, when you plant the seed in the soil something wonderful happens…a harvest is grown. Trusting God enough to invest in to that which he has given us, i.e., his Word, the Holy Spirit, spiritual leaders, etc., is not really what we want but rather an investment we make into what God has given us. That investment is faith.
I think this is a great illustration of how your faith can bring about some pretty amazing things. The effort we put in to that which God has given us is the seed that starts the process of God blessing us. The key is discovering the things which are God-given to invest our efforts in as opposed to investing our efforts into the things that are not gifts to us from God but rather idealisms we generate as a result of our selfishness and self-centeredness. One of those God-given things is religion.
“Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
RELIGION is a gift from God. If you have known me very long you may find it difficult to believe I would make such a statement. I mean, I don’t exactly promote religion, legalism, traditionalism, or anything of the sort but I believe in the benefits of religion. I don’t believe in piety and religiosity as a means to salvation, gaining God’s favor, or achieving an elitist social standing within the Church. I do, however, believe that religion, when it serves its intended purpose, gives people the opportunity to accomplish several things God desires.
In the Bible, in the book of James (1:27), you will find that there is a pure form of religion described. James writes; “Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” From this statement, it is obvious that religion is meant to be pure. What makes it pure is when Christians look after orphans and widows in their distress and when Christians keep themselves unstained from the world. What do you notice about each of these perimeters of pure religion? They are all actions and when these actions are invested into religion FAITH is demonstrated.
Oxford Scholarship Press gives a generic definition of “religion” and states that, “The purposes of the practice of a religion are to achieve the goals of salvation for oneself and others, and (if there is a God) to render due worship and obedience to God.” If this definition is accurate then religion provides us with a process of salvation, evangelism, worship, and discipleship. When we invest in religion and religious practices for the purpose of accomplishing these things FAITH happens.
Personally, I like how God creates the mechanisms we need to accomplish faith because I don’t think we would ever be able to manage faith without them. In the movie, “Evan Almighty,” God (Morgan Freeman) teaches Evan and his family that when someone asks for FAITH God does not give them FAITH but gives them the opportunity to have FAITH. I believe that. Instead of discrediting the trouble we often encounter in life and giving up on religion why not try to have FAITH that through pure religion you can honor God, spread the Gospel, and be blessed all in the process.
When you invest in a relationship you demonstrate FAITH because relationships are a gift from God. God created relationships and the ability to have them is a characteristic unique to human beings. For some reason God decided that human beings needed each other. In the biblical account of the creation story God said that, “It isn’t good that the man is alone (Genesis 2:18).” If it is not good for people to be alone then God must mean for us to be in relationships. Theologically speaking, if God wants the world to see him, know him, and understand him, perhaps one of the best ways to do it is through relationships. The reason I say that is because God’s ultimate attribute is that he exists in three persons; father, son, and spirit.
"God exists in relationship with himself and God is seen most through relationships. Take, for example, the relationship between fellow Christians and how the “Church” demonstrates God to the world when we function in godly order." - Dr. Wiley Hughes
In 1 Corinthians 14 the writer states “23 If, therefore, the whole church assembles together and all are speaking in other tongues and people who are outsiders or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 24 But if all are prophesying and some unbeliever or outsider comes in, he is convicted by all and is called to account by all. 25 The secrets of his heart will be revealed, and as a result he will fall facedown and worship God, proclaiming, “God is really among you.” This kind of witness is accomplished as we invest in relationships with one another and when unity exists in the church.
As we continue to invest time, energy, and effort in the relationships we establish with fellow believers we, shine as lights on the Gospel for the whole world to see. In Matthew 14 Jesus says that we are the “light of the world.” Not one of us is the light but each of us, together in relationship, illuminates the world with the brilliance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord.
There is an unnatural component of being in a relationship and it often discourages people from connecting with others. For a relationship to be successful self-sacrifice is sometimes required. Self-sacrifice includes inconvenience, discomfort, and sometimes pain for the sake of the relationship. Not everyone is willing to sacrifice comfort and convenience for the sake of a relationship but doing so is a demonstration of FAITH. As God has given us the person(s) we are in a relationship with, investing in those relationships with faithfulness and love is an act of FAITH.
In the movie; “Guardian,” with Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Costner, there was a scene where a small yacht had capsized, leaving a couple stranded in the water. The National Guard quickly responded to the distress signal and dispatched rescuers was try and save them. As the couple were treading water, waiting for the guardsmen to lower the rescue baskets, the man, who was a very weak swimmer, began to hold on to his wife, pushing her under water in the process. Instead of helping his wife the frightened swimmer risked drowning his wife in order to save his own life. This is a clear illustration of how the natural, animalistic, every-man-for-himself part of our humanity isn’t always inclined to invest in others. Sigmund Freud called this human drive to please self the “Id.” The Id is the part of us that drives us to please ourselves with our actions and decisions. It is the part of us that will sacrifice anything and anyone to get what it wants.
If you have ever struggled with an addiction you may know how it feels to get to the point where you would do anything to curb that craving and satisfy that addiction. Although I gladly concede the need for substance abuse counseling for everyone struggling with the disease of substance addiction, and I do believe addiction is a disease, as a doctor of the Church I believe that denying self, consecration to God in prayer, meditation, and fasting contributes greatly to overcoming addiction. The reason I believe it is because these are some ways we kill the lordship of the flesh. The flesh, that carnal, self-seeking, selfish part of our humanity is not of God. The flesh we have now is a result of the falleness of man which started in the Garden of Eden. Prior to that our bodies were perfect, flawless, and pure. God didn’t give us this flesh…sin did.
Do you remember when Jesus said; “I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10?)” He was not talking about our bodies. Every single person who heard Jesus make that statement died, including Jesus himself. So, we know he was not talking about our physical body. Every effort you make to please or preserve the body over the spirit is an act of faithlessness. Why? Because your current body is not a gift to you. The body you have now has been contaminated and unperfected by sin. There will be a body God will give you one day and it will be a perfect body. However, the one you now have is not and investing in it ahead of everything else, as we often do, will not produce blessing in your life or further the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The life Jesus died to give you is NOT in your BODY. The life Jesus died to give you is in your Spirit. It is only when you prioritize your spirit and invest in that which promotes your spirit, ahead of your flesh, are you demonstrating FAITH. Everything in the spirit is a relationship. When you pray it is a relationship between you and the Holy Spirit. When you believe it is a relationship between you and the Word of God. Even when you were saved it was a relationship between you and Christ Jesus. Such investments in the relationships God has given us are acts of true FAITH.
We all know that good works won’t get you to heaven BUT good works are not for your salvation…they are for other’s salvation. - Dr. Wiley Hughes
In Matthew 5:16 you are reminded by Jesus to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” Your righteousness (right deeds) are a demonstration of your FAITH. God has given us directions and principles for us to follow not so that he can have an excuse to condemn us when we fail but so that we have a way to demonstrate our FAITH to others. Keeping God’s commandments and trying our best to follow his word shows that we believe in biblical standards and how God tells us to live. Faith, Hope, Love. It is the way we effectively spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ until he comes!
Rev. Wiley Hughes
D.Min., Psy.D., FBPPC, LPCA, NCC
Apostolic Leader of Destiny Now