But you are a chosen group of people. You are the King’s religious leaders. You are a holy nation. You belong to God. He has done this for you so you can tell others how God has called you out of darkness into His great light.
Those are some really fancy words, from a really old book. Do they really have any relevance in today's world? Do they really apply to me?
I don't live in a country with a King. I didn't grow up in a place where there was royalty. These are things of fairy tales to me.
It's certainly a nice thought. I mean, to think that I am chosen; that I belong to God. That's nice, but that's not talking about me. I'm just a regular guy. I've got a job, and bills to pay. I've got a kid that's going to want to go to college someday. I've got retirement to worry about, and taxes to deal with. I'm not royalty. No one bows down to me when I walk into the room. I'm a husband. I'm a dad. I'm a brother and a son.
I'm not chosen.
At least, that's what I used to think.
There was a time when I didn't think much of God. I figured he was there. I had no proof though because I hadn't experienced God in a way they I could understand. And then, about 12 years ago, I met God. At first, it was just a feeling. I dare not talk about that feeling to anyone except those who I absolutely knew believed. I couldn't bear the thought of someone asking me questions about my new beliefs. There was no way I could bring up God to any non-Christian friends. The idea of saying the name "Jesus" in conversation filled my stomach with butterflies and triggered a definite flight (not fight) response.
To avoid walking through the last 12 years of my life, let me summarize.
I started reading books. I started reading books in the Bible. I started listening to pastors and Christian speakers. I began a prayer life.
The more I learned, the more confident I was in my beliefs. The more confident I was in my beliefs, the less anxiety I felt about talking about God.
Eventually, I realized that it wasn't a knowledge issue I had, it was a faith issue. It wasn't knowledge I was seeking, it was God. It took me a long time to get to know God, and that process will continue, I'm sure, into eternity.
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
I wish I could tell you that my faith tank was at full capacity. I wish I could tell you I never avoided faith-centric conversations. No matter how many times I see things actually happen that were once just a confident hope, I still find it difficult to completely surrender to God. I'm like one of Jesus' disciples. No matter how many times they saw him perform a miracle, or do something he told them he was going to do, they still looked at him in complete amazement and dis-belief. All he could say was, "why do you have so little faith?"
I wish I had the courage to be 100% sold out to God all the time, everywhere.
It's easy on Sunday. It becomes more of an issue on Monday.
That's where the adversary gets us. He tells us that if we aren't at 100%, then why make the effort? He'll try to convince us, until we know everything, we can't do anything. So we retreat. We tell ourselves we have to know more, have to memorize more, have to study more. Another day goes by when we could have shared the love of God with our neighbor, and we let it slip past us in favor of knowledge.
1 Corinthians 8:1
While knowledge may make us feel important, it is love that really builds up the church.
Doh! Why can't I just stay at home and gather more knowledge? Why do I have to go out and love people?!?
Because the enemy wants to isolate me and disassemble my faith. God wants to use me to glorify his name and build his kingdom.
When I go out and love, my faith is strengthened. When my faith is strengthened, I can go out and love. You might call that a catch-22, but I think it just takes a decision. When you decide to go out and love your neighbor, the seeds of faith begin to take root. When we decide to live our lives dangerously close to Jesus, as Blake said on Sunday, we get a super shot of faith. When we decide to have uncensored faith, God can do great things through us. The more we choose to live our lives this way, the more we get to know God. The more we get to know God, the stronger our faith becomes. The stronger our faith becomes, the more God can use us.
You see where this is going, right?!?
Let us truly believe that we are the sons and daughters of a king. We are a holy nation, and we belong to God. Let us not be afraid to tell people about how God has changed our lives. Let us strive to live a life of uncensored faith.
Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.
Leave a comment below. How has your faith been strengthened?
If you missed Blake's message on Uncensored Faith, you can check it out here. Come join us this Sunday, and bring a friend.