Do you believe in God? It’s a common question. It’s most often answered in the affirmative – although who or what that god is takes a variety of forms. There is a difference between belief in God, and faith in God. It’s a difference often not recognized in the Judeo-Christian worldview. Belief that God exists can easily be made through any number of rational arguments. Faith in God (Jesus in particular), leaves one with their knees buckling on one hand and total joy and security on the other.
I don’t want to minimize belief in God, as this was a critical step I had to take before I ever got to Jesus. But the evidence for God is plain. We’re so used to questioning everything. We’re bred on skepticism. We even address the question of God’s existence nonchalantly – as if it’s just another philosophical brain twister. Or, we twist our own truth. With no commitment to God, we fashion what we want.
But God is real. And it’s blatantly obvious. It’s not a leap of faith. It’s a leap of reason. The Apostle Paul, highly intelligent by all accounts, talks about this in his letter to the Romans. He writes:
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Psalm 19 says the same thing in song:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
In other words, look around you. You’re standing on a massive hunk of rock spinning in place in a vast universe and you’re able to reason and question all of it. We have no excuse not to believe in God. We may not like Him or understand Him. Or we may be mad at Him or not know what He’s up to, but “belief” in Him is a given. Folks, of course, can argue this point. I did for years.
The larger point is faith in this God. If we “believe” in God, we must feel the weight of God. If God is indeed the Creator of the universe, if He is a personal God that knows us, and has a plan as revealed in the Bible, as Jesus clearly believed, taught, lived, and fulfilled, then casual “belief” in God won’t do. We must take the step of faith in God – in His promises, His commandments, and His Word.
What does this look like? Faith, experiencing the glory of God, can make you want to puke, fall down and sob uncontrollably, raise your arms in worship, or face a bullet with grace. There are numerous examples of this. Remember when Jesus calmed the wind and the waves? His students (many expert fisherman) were afraid they were going to drown because such a violent storm kicked up as they rowed along. Yet, they were even more afraid when they experienced Jesus’ raw power when he told the wind and the waves to “shut up” (as Tim Keller puts it), and they did. And what did Jesus say to his students? He said, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
Or how about Jairus, the synagogue leader who fell at Jesus’ feet and asked him to come heal his daughter? In route to Jairus’ home, Jesus stops and starts chatting with a woman with a bleeding problem. How do you think Jairus was feeling while he waited for Jesus? Perhaps he was sick to his stomach with what seemed to be an incredibly inappropriate delay when there is a dying girl at hand? And yet what did Jesus say? Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” In other words, “Have faith. I’ve got this. I Am at hand.”
Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson