Live by Faith — a current reflection

I have a confession to make.

Please don’t think less of me as a result.

The fact is that often I am tempted to throw in the towel when it comes to Christianity.

In fact, I know why this is. And a lot of Christians (especially in the circles I usually run in) will probably not like it. But Satan knows that this is a place where I am weak. But I’ve been weak here since I was 12, and when I was 18, I declared myself an atheist.

Granted, that only lasted 4 months, but the same weak points that led me to that decision still exist in me today. Today, I know the truth of Christianity intellectually, but emotionally it often feels like it’s insanity. Satan knows this and pushes on this sore spot cuz he wants me to backslide and turn my back on God.

This is why about two weeks ago I foolishly said, “I don’t have faith,” in a time of intense frustration, confusion, and discouragement.

“I don’t have faith.”

Is that true?
Do I not have faith?

That’s almost equivalent to saying, “I’m not a Christian.” But I am. I definitely am. I trusted Jesus as my Lord and Savior when I was 5, when I was 12, and when I was 18, and I’ve repeatedly run to his arms over the past 12 years to find peace, hope, and joy. I need Christ. No matter how hard life gets, He is my only hope.

But life is incredibly hard.

For instance, I make more money than I’ve ever made in my life, but somehow I still don’t make enough each month to qualify for an apartment just off my income. (They expect you to make 3x the rent each month and then charge $2,000 per month. This means I need to pull in $6,000 a month just to qualify, which means I’d need $72,000 a year to qualify. However, the average income in the United States was only $65,000 in 2021. Therefore, you have to be upper-middle class to even qualify to rent an apartment in my area.) And to make it worse, I can’t even get a loan to purchase a home because the field in which I work isn’t “salaried” and thus “is not guaranteed income.”

Praise God, though! We are moving into an apartment for $1,895 a month–TODAY!

In early 2021, when my wife and I were talking about starting a family, we decided to move forward because “God will provide for us.”

Now, Jeremiah is 8 months old, and we’ve been forced to live with my parents for the past five months. And granted, God provided a place for us with my parents, but my wife and I needed to become our own familial unit–with Jeremiah. And even though God provided us an apartment today, it is still very difficult to afford where we currently live (money is going to be beyond tight for the next year). But moving to a cheaper part of the country turned out to not be feasible (as much as we wanted to) because it would have required me to find a new job that would have kept me from having as much time with my family due to the next 17 months of school.

This–and other things–forces me to ask the age-old questions: “Is God truly good?” “Is God truly faithful?” “Is God truly loving?”

Theologically, I know the answer to each of these questions. YES! But practically, experientially, it is a daily roller coaster to hold onto faith. (In fact, as of scheduling this post to publish, I’m stressed that something is going to happen to prevent us from getting our keys today.)

When the pandemic of 2020 was in full swing, I wrote a blog post about living by faith. I’ve unfortunately stepped away from the realizations I came to in that post. Rather than “dropping to my knees whenever necessary,” I’ve decided to complain and let my emotions get the best of me.

Now don’t get me wrong. Emotions are not inherently evil or sinful. But neither is alcohol or tobacco or sex. All of these things are gifts given and created by God. But we can misuse any of them in a way that becomes sinful.

Let the evil of the wicked come to an end,
but establish the righteous.
The One who examines the thoughts and emotions
is a righteous God.

Psalm 7:9

David here tells us that God examines our thoughts and emotions. If our thoughts and emotions need to be examined, then it means they can be used for both good and evil. God is righteous, and therefore, He is qualified to judge them.

When I allow Satan to wedge his fingers in my mind and turn my emotions toward sin, then I am deserving of judgment.

But thankfully, there is grace. The psalms indicate that God’s people have struggled in their emotions with the reality of God. Job shows us that God’s acts are often confusing. And then there’s Habakkuk, who basically charged God with wrongdoing, but in the end, he was forced to be silent before God (2:20) and turn his intended contradiction of God (2:1) into a prayer of praise (3:1-19).

And Habakkuk is where we discover one of the most basic tenets of Christianity:

Look, his ego is inflated;
he is without integrity.
But the righteous one will live by his faith.

Habakkuk 2:4

When I sinfully charge God with evil, faithlessness, or hatred, then I am acting in pride. Faith cannot be prideful. The two are incompatible with each other.

I’ve also been convicted of holding onto a lot of bitterness for the past while. When I harbor bitterness, it hinders my ability to love. When I’m failing to love, I’m failing to exhibit faith. These two are also incompatible with each other:

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision accomplishes anything; what matters is faith working through love.

Galatians 5:6

At the end of the day, my love reveals my faith. My love should not be dependent on peoples’ views on various topics–political, theological, ecclesial. My love should also not be dependent on people’s treatment of me. I am called to love and turn the other cheek if necessary, which literally means: Be willing to potentially be taken advantage of in the same way again. This is a hard word, but this is why only faith can accomplish this sort of love.

But thankfully, there is grace when we fall short. Paul explains it clearly:

This saying is trustworthy:

For if we have died with Him,
we will also live with Him;
if we endure, we will also reign with Him;
if we deny Him, He will also deny us;
if we are faithless, He remains faithful,
for He cannot deny Himself.

2 Timothy 2:11-13

If we are faithless, He remains faithful. This is beautiful. For the Christian, Christ is indwelling him/her. When we stumble and display faithlessness, God can’t turn His back on us, because that would involve Him turning His back on Himself. God is triune. God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are all–equally–God, and even though it blows our mind, they cannot actually be separated because they are one. (Christians are to display this sort of love to one another–“live in Love.”)

This is a beautiful promise for me because I have placed my faith in Christ. Christ lives in me. I must regularly return to Him by faith when I realize that I’ve fallen short of full faith in Him in every moment–which is pretty much every minute of every day. When I make foolish statements like, “I don’t have faith,” or when I harbor bitterness, it doesn’t cost me my salvation, because I am convicted of going too far.

I need to repent of my bitterness and lack of faith (is this not bitterness toward God?) and exhibit true faith through love!

But for the person who doesn’t have faith, or who threw away their faith and doesn’t care, the phrase “He cannot deny Himself” should be terrifying. If you’re not “in Christ” by faith, then God can and will deny you, because you are not part of Himself.

Check your faith before your eternity is wrecked.

Place your faith in Christ today!

There’s grace in Him even for your lack of faith, but not if you die lacking faith!

In this with you.

Soli Deo Gloria
Solus Christus
Sola Fide

Thanks for reading.

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