Another way this might manifest itself: Well, maybe, rather than talk about problems in our marriage with a close and trusted Godly friend (of the same gender,) we keep it to ourselves. After all, if my marriage is in trouble, it must mean I don’t have enough faith, or the faith I have isn’t strong enough to ignite God’s power. It couldn’t be that sharing the daily issues of anxiety and strain and seeking out Godly counsel might put my marriage on a different path. Or, maybe rather than join a small group, I would avoid investing in deep intimate relationships, and not expect a small group experience to help me grow into spiritual maturity. If I need the help of a small group for that, then my faith must not be strong enough. Remember, “Faith is not believing that God can, but that God will…” I think this theology possibly leads us to thinking that as a “Christian,” we must have it together at all times and always have the answer to our problems. If this were true, then Abraham, Jacob, Isaac, David, Esther, Ruth, Paul the Apostle, Peter, and a host of other Godly biblical men and women were the wrong people for the task at hand. Christianity would most certainly have died in the 1st century. It wasn’t perfect marriages, or perfect ministries, perfect leadership or perfect children that caused the glory of God to shine forth through these men and women. Rather it was their imperfect lives and God’s perfect Son that made all the difference.
I love love love the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Look at Daniel 3 with me. Okay, are you there yet? (Humming my favorite song.) Giving you time to go to Daniel 3 in your bibles, you version, or Biblehttp://www.facebook.com/l/8567dlsO80M2230Sx9K16cmBw7A;gateway.com. Okay got it? Now read verses 13-18. What do you see there? Some of the most powerful words in scripture you will ever read about 3 of the most faith filled God followers you will ever know. The Pagan king Nebuchadnezzar threatened to throw the three youths into a hot fiery furnace if they did not bow down to him. This was there reply. And no matter how often I read it, it always gives me goose bumps. “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is ABLE to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But EVEN IF HE DOES NOT, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
They knew and believed that God was way more powerful than that fiery furnace. They trusted 100% in the power of God to rescue them from that furnace, but they also knew that God’s plans would not be thwarted even if their desired outcome was different. “But even if he does not choose to rescue us from death, we still believe in Him.” (paraphrase)
Okay, we know the end to that story. God did indeed save them from the fiery pit that day. If He had not, then the three faithful followers would surely have joined him in heaven. But similar accounts did not always end this way. During Nero’s reign as Roman emperor from 54-68 AD, he arrested and tortured all the Christians in Rome, before executing them with lavish publicity. Some were crucified, some were thrown to wild animals and others were burned alive as living torches. This included men, women, and children. We also know from scripture and history that all the disciples of Jesus (not including Judas Iscariot) met with violent martyred deaths, with the exception of John. One might ask, “Was their faith not strong enough for God to show His power?”
God is always faithful. God is always good. God will always prevail. How do we know this? The lesson was borne out on the cross. The empty tomb reminds us that the One to whom we raise our hands and voices is King over all. The Creator of this Universe is more powerful than anything we could hope or imagine 1st and foremost. This power PRECLUDES our existence! Grappling with this truth will render us hopeless and “fruitless,” as we expend our energy waiting and hoping for someone or something to fill in all the missing blanks of our lives so that our faith can “prove itself.” On the other hand, grasping this truth will free us from a stronghold of futility and hopelessness and position us to grow in the knowledge and joy of Christ. (2 Peter 1:5-8) Are you grappling or grasping this truth?