Living by Faith
“We live by faith, not by sight.” (II Corinthians 5:7) Jesus Christ came into the world, living with perfect knowledge of the Father and perfect trust in the Father. His life was lived by faith from beginning to end. What was natural for Him is unnatural for us. I can only recall (dimly) one time in my life when I lived totally by faith. I was not worried about where my next meal would come from. I had no concerns about what I was going to wear. There were no anxieties about what the next day would bring. The thought of worrying about school work, a career choice, eventual marriage and family responsibilities never crossed my mind. I lived a life of trust and dependence. Sadly, in some regards, these days of early childhood slipped away and I joined the rest of fallen adult humanity. Humanity assumes it must take responsibility for itself and find its own way in life. It is no wonder that Christ says we must become like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven! When our forefather (Adam) chose independence from God as a lifestyle he set himself up to be his own God. He said, in effect, “I know better how to run my own life that you do” As David Benner notes, there are only two prayers offered by mankind. These are often unspoken, non verbalized prayers expressing two alternative desires of mankind. One is supernatural, the other is natural. One is “Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” The natural one, the one we are born with is “Hallowed be my name, my kingdom come, my will be done!” Desiring God’s Will, Intervarsity Press, 2015, pg 33. Jesus says to those who unconsciously or consciously pray the natural prayer, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” The burden of running our own lives is a heavy one. Christ offers us His burden, the will of God, telling us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. (Mathew 11: 28-30)
St. Ignatius notes that “Sin consists of our unwillingness to trust that what God wants for us is our deepest happiness.” If we really knew God fully we would trust Him fully. To live by faith does not mean that we need more faith. It means that we need greater knowledge of the object of our faith. I John 4:19 says that “We love because he first loved us.” To immerse our lives in a study of His love for us would overwhelm us with the truth Paul describes in Romans 8:38-39. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” If we knew what Christ knew about the Father when He was on earth, we would surrender to His love, and willingly turn the control of our lives over to Him. “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13) The apostle Paul further describes his experience in allowing the Lord to control the events of his life. “For I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4.11b-12) To live by faith, then, is to relinquish control of our lives to Him.
Isaiah characterizes another aspect of living by faith. In his reply to the Lord in Isaiah 6:8 “Whom shall I send?”, and “Who will go for us?”, he says “Here am I. Send me.” G. Campbell Morgan describes this response as abandonment and readiness. Isaiah has abandoned himself to God! Oswald Chambers has these comments to say about what it means to abandon. “Are you prepared to abandon entirely and let go? The test of abandonment is in refusing to say—“Well, what about this?” Beware of suppositions. Immediately you allow—-What about this?—- It means you have not abandoned, you do not really trust God. Immediately you do abandon you think no more about what God is going to do. Abandon means to refuse yourself the luxury of asking any questions.” To abandon is to live by faith. The opposite of this is to live by sight, as three men in Luke 9:57-62 demonstrate by their (hypothetical) questions. Where are we going to sleep tonight? Can I bury my father first? Can I say goodbye to my family first?
To live by faith also means continued waiting on God. We must be attentive and responsive. We wait on His agenda and timetable for our lives and ministry, not on our own. If He chooses to set us aside from our work for Him, are we able to wait patiently for what He wants? Waiting on Him implies that what we want is what He wants for us. Do we want blessings, active service for him, and success in what we are doing, or do we want Him? Living by faith is waiting for Him to be glorified in our lives regardless of the path and its detours.
Finally, living by faith means that we have not yet attained that for which we were created. We continue to thirst and hunger for deeper knowledge of our Lord. We are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (II Corinthians 3:18) Paul has this thought in view in Philippians 3:12-14. “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” We must always have the vision of the person of God before us. Our satisfaction is not to be granted during this probationary existence. It awaits for us when we are with Him. “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness. I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” (Psalm 17:15) KJV
I am reminded of an illustration I heard a few years ago describing living by faith. Imagine a river flowing from His throne of grace. This river of grace flows throughout the whole world, touching and redeeming the lives of multitudes of people. Picture yourself going down to the river with an empty pail which you fill and then dispense to others throughout the day. You have carried His grace to minister to others. Now imagine going down to the river and actually jumping into the river! You are now allowing His grace to carry you! Do you appreciate the difference? Allowing His grace to carry you rather than you carrying His grace relinquishes your control, abandons yourself to Him, waits fully on Him, and has a clear vision of God and His glory before you! May His grace carry you as you live by faith in Him.
In Christ, Richard Spann