Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Heb 12:1-2 (NLT)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Is it receive and believe, or believe and receive?

Okay, so one of the fundamental things that I have struggled with since I was eight years old and first heard about God and Jesus, was the whole "receiving and believing" thing.  Everyone who knows anything about Christianity knows that at it's core is believing in the existence and resurrection of Jesus.

To become a Christian, all one has to do is pray to Jesus and say "I believe in you and I receive you".

I cannot tell you how many times I've prayed those words over the years and yet there are times when I still wonder if I've done it right. When I was little, I was told that praying those words only means something if you really accepted Jesus in your heart. But what does that mean, exactly? The issue that I have is this: wanting to believe that something is true isn't the same as believing it.

I have no problem believing there is a God. But how does one go from believing in a God, to believing that same God came to earth in the form of a person named Jesus, who was then murdered, but came back from the dead so that our souls could live forever? Why doesn't this belief or knowledge automatically translate for me like it seems to do for others?

If it hasn't become abundantly clear, one of my struggles as a Christian is faith. I have feared over the years that I was one of an unfortunate few whose heart God had hardened. Romans 9:21 discusses how a potter has the right to decide to use some lumps of clay to make a jar for decoration, and another to throw garbage into. What if I was one God had made to "throw garbage into"? Not a pleasant thought. But then Romans 9 goes on to say that even though God has the right to show his anger, He is patient and merciful. Thank goodness for that.

I have asked God why I should have so many doubts. Why couldn't I just believe and have faith?

Romans 10:17 (NLT) says "faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ". Ephesians 2:8 words it a little more specifically, "God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God". The "it" referred to in this passage, is faith.

It seems pretty clear then that faith is a gift from God. I can't manifest it myself. This makes me feel a little better but it has also meant that I've come to accept that faith is a struggle God has given me, and that I am just going to have to work through it. I take a lot of comfort from Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT): "...let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith." The perfecter of our faith. This implies that it okay to struggle with faith! This verse has made me realize that I truly am a work in progress - God is still working on me. I'm not a lost cause! He just isn't finished with me yet.

Most recently when I questioned God about my faith, the following words popped very clearly into my head: just keep asking.

Once again it would appear that God is trying hard to teach me the lesson of depending on Him instead of myself.


  1. I think most Christians struggle with this regardless of whether or not they admit it. I've come to realize that so many of the promises of the Lord are truly based on our choices. For instance, Romans 15:13 "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace AS you trust in him..." It's the "as" that is the kicker. And just as you said, that 'as' is a choice--and trust is an act of faith--and I believe faith is based on memory. All through the old testament, people were instructed to build alters, monuments and markers to REMIND them of the great things the Lord did. The architect of the human heart knows darn well that we will falter, but it's in remembering what He has done for us already--that we find the faith needed to choose to trust Him. Going through my divorce, as a pastors wife that had been betrayed (we'll leave that alone for now--lol) I was rather....shattered. And very alone. I made a list as far back as I could remember, of all the moments I was amazed by His hand. I hung it above the kitchen sink. Every day I would read it.....I had an infant and a 2 yr-old and that list may have been the only reason I kept my sanity. God is good. Scratch that--God is magnificent!

  2. Interesting. Faith is a biggie for Christians. It is the cornerstone of our belief in God. Without it, you're just blowing in the wind, at every little belief system that eats into our everyday life. One time when faith for me was "tested" was after my son died. He was 25. It was a shock. I was mad at God - I didn't understand it. Sure everyone told me I would see him again - but I just couldn't wrap my mind around that. This time of faithless actually worked it's way around and back to having the Faith of Abraham. I can't see it, I couldn't touch it but I choose to believe it. After all, what choice do I have for true peace (shalom) within?

    I'm following you from the blog hop weekend. Hope you might do the same. God Bless.


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