by Doy Moyer
“But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled and put on the armor of faith and love, and a helmet of the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him” (I Thessalonians 5:8-10).
There are different ways in which we may think about faith, but, for this, there are two sides of faith to consider and contrast:
- faith one feeds and for which one fights, and
- faith that is passively accepted by default.
The first is consciously and conscientiously chosen; the second is tolerated and tacitly endorsed even if not much considered. The first is valued and, while not easy, is defended at personal cost; the second sits at ease, often undefended, and remains untested. The first comes through the fight, not without scars, but with greater determination; the second avoids the fight and prefers the comfort of undefended assumptions.
When we speak of faith, we are not referring to mere belief. Rather, faith is trust. What we place our trust in is our worldview foundation on which everything else is built. We are consciously or subconsciously trusting someone or something. Whether in category one (openly trusting) or two (unwittingly trusting), everyone places trust in something. No one gets a pass to say, “I trust nothing.” Trusting something is inevitable even if it is in your own thinking.
One can drift into the other with varying points along the path (cf. Heb 2:1). People might start in defense of their faith (category one), but then fail to feed it properly and find themselves more passive and tolerant of category two. They may not even realize this is what they are doing, and soon they think that they lost their faith. But this is not to be mistaken for not having any faith (trust) at all, for now, they have changed where they are placing their trust.
Some Christians might flounder in the second category with a faith that lies untested and shallow, and these are in great danger of giving up Christ altogether. We have seen several who leave Christ say something like, “I didn’t try to leave; I just slowly found that I didn’t believe anymore.” What this tells us is that their faith slid unnoticed into the second category. They accepted it by default but didn’t fight for it or actively choose it even in the face of opposition and adversity. Their faith was dormant, did nothing, and then they are surprised that they lost it. But what else is to be expected? When category one faith dies, there are no more defenses and other assumptions are then passively accepted.
Many who quit trusting God, while sometimes arguing that they just couldn’t find enough evidence to continue believing, will fail to apply the same tests to their newfound trust. They can’t believe in God, but they will grant the assumptions, for instance, that mindless, purposeless, accidental chance processes, from who knows where or why, operated to bring about our ability to reason, love, and make moral choices within a reality where the end result of all things is nothing. Some philosophers have indeed defended such, but many others will not, though their worldview is built on it. One of the signs of category one faith is whether we will actually own the worldview for what it is. If we cannot own the foundation on which we build our lives, can we really say it maintains any ultimate value to us?
Category one faith in Christ is often hard and needs to be fed and fought for. We are to deny self (Luke 9:23), empty self (Philippians 2:3-5), and crucify self (Galatians 2:20; 6:14), and this runs counter to our selfish desires. We will be tested as to where our allegiance truly rests. And if we have not been feeding our faith properly and diligently, we will have set ourselves up to stumble and slide. As is said of the adulterer, “Can a man embrace fire and his clothes not be burned? Can a man walk on burning coals without scorching his feet?” (Proverbs 6:27-28). Can we imbibe worldly thinking and expect trust in Christ to survive?
Know that the devil would sift us all like wheat (cf. Luke 22:31). Peter, who was so sifted, warned, “Be sober-minded, be alert. Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him, firm in the faith, knowing that the same kind of sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world” (I Peter 5:8-9). James admonished, “Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
Don’t let a day go by that you don’t fight for your faith, feed your faith, and further your faith “so that the proven character of your faith — more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire — may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:7). Fight for it! You are worth saving.