Monday, October 7, 2013

Full of Faith?

Faithfulness.  The condition of being faithful.  It’s an interesting subject.  And it’s my “homework” for this month.  Let me explain.

I belong to a Google Plus community of Christian bloggers.  The link badge is top left, next to this post, if you want to see some of the great stuff I get to read daily.  Anyway, periodically, we have challenges – the last one was for our women bloggers.  I didn’t participate for obvious reasons.  This month’s challenge is on the subject of faithfulness.  I wouldn’t mention the community or the challenge, except that they fit the topic.  Kind of.

Most of my posts come out of studying and meditating on things that God leads me to think about, at the time.  Often, it’ll be what I’ve been considering for awhile.  But sometimes, it’s something different enough from my meditations that it stands out like one of those old electric signs made of flashing light bulbs to get your attention.  This challenge got me thinking about the meaning of the word “faithful”, the foundation of faithfulness.

The Merriam Webster online dictionary has a series of definitions that boil down to conscientious; diligent; loyal; strong assurance; true to facts, a standard, or an original.  They also included, as the first definition, one they considered obsolete – full of faith.  If we’re talking about an object, it obviously can’t have any faith, even though it may be a true representation of of an original.  But God and us are not objects.

God is omniscient, so He doesn’t need faith.  But He can give us faith and He can be faithful.  There are only two verses where God is described as having faithfulness in the English, Psalm 89:8 and Isaiah 25:1.  Both of those relate to veracity and stability.  There are 30 instances where He’s said to be faithful.  Again relating to veracity and stability.  The variety of Hebrew and Greek words all point to trustworthiness.  When we think about the dictionary definitions of faithful and faithfulness, we begin to understand that God is faithful.  He’s a perfect representation of His nature.  He is loyal to Himself and His creation.  Because God is diligent and steadfast, we gain strong assurance from Him.  And, because He is trustworthy and stable, we gain faith in Him.

In a sense, our faith in God is where the rubber meets the road.  It doesn’t take much experience to realize that, by ourselves, we’re extremely limited in our ability to meet any and all of the dictionary definitions of “faithful” and “faithfulness”.  We skip the ones we don’t like.  We go as far as we like with others and call them complete.  We try to complete some of the definitions and try to ignore our incompetence at meeting the standards.  We’re an interesting race, we humans.  We like to think of ourselves as the ultimate, ignoring our lack of capacity to fulfill that goal by ourselves.

Satan says he will be like the Most High (Is 14:14) and we have a tendency to follow along.  Even though he’s not trustworthy except in his desire to separate us from God.  That’s something we know he’ll follow through on.  If he’s unsuccessful in that, we have strong assurance he’ll be vindictive and try to inflict pain.  In those things, he’ll be faithful – a true representation of his nature.  So, with that kind of faithfulness, why would we want to follow suit?

Whether we take the story of Adam and Eve in the garden as literal (I do.) or allegory, there’s a point where man determined to deviate from listening to God.  His own thinking became his center of the universe, not God.  That shift created an alliance with Satan and had us following his direction.  Jesus described people with that thinking as being “of your father the devil” (John 8:44).  Aligned with the enemy, plus our spiritual and physical genetics altered.  That’s not where we ought to leave things.

God isn’t mamby pamby and doesn’t remove consequences just because we think He should.  That includes Hell, which was never originally intended for man.  But God’s faithfulness (being true to the standard of His nature) is based on love.  That love gives us an alternative to that, an opportunity to change our minds and direction (repentance), based on His helping that change.  And we can choose (free will) a relationship with Him, based on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.  A sacrifice we couldn’t make for ourselves, but His loving faithfulness (being true to His nature), His conscientousness (faithfulness), and diligence (again, faithfulness) did.

Because God is faithful in a multitude of ways in all His persons, we need to be and can be faithful (full of faith) regarding Him and our relationship with Him.  The sum of our faithfulness comes from Him working in us.  That can give us peace, rest, and joy.  How full is your faith, today?

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