Faith in God is really hard!
Faith in God, I think is really hard, because you have to do something first in order to know if God is true or not. You can look at all the evidence, but unless you are prepared to open your mind and heart to the possibilities that God is a living God who comes to make himself known to us by living with us, as his son Jesus Christ, who through his death, resurrection and ascension has victory over all evil and who comes to show us his love today through filling us with his living Holy Spirit; you never get to know God. Which is a shame I think, because our world needs to know our living God. Faith in God is really hard, especially if you are a thinking person.
A boy was sitting on a park bench with one hand resting on an open Bible. He was loudly exclaiming his praise to God. “Hallelujah! Hallelujah! God is great!” he yelled without worrying whether anyone heard him or not.
Shortly after, along came a man who had recently completed some studies at a local university. Feeling himself very enlightened in the ways of the world and very eager to show this enlightenment, he asked the boy about the source of his joy.
“Hey” said the boy with a bright laugh, “Don’t you have any idea what God is able to do? I just read that God opened up the waves of the Red Sea and led the whole nation of Israel right through the middle.”
The enlightened man laughed lightly, sat down next to the boy and began to try to open his eyes to the “realities” of the miracles of the Bible. “That can all be very easily explained. Modern scholarship has shown that the Red Sea in that area was only 10-inches deep at that time. It was no problem for the Israelites to wade across.”
The boy was stumped. His eyes wandered from the man back to the Bible laying open in his lap. The man, content that he had enlightened a poor, naive young person to the finer points of scientific insight, turned to go. Scarcely had he taken two steps when the boy began to rejoice and praise louder than before. The man turned to ask the reason for this resumed jubilation.
“Wow!” exclaimed the boy happily, “Thank you, God is greater than I thought! Not only did He lead the whole nation of Israel through the Red Sea, He topped it off by drowning the whole Egyptian army in10 inches of water!”
Faith in God is really hard, especially if you are a thinking person. I have a couple of close friends who cannot understand why I have faith in Jesus Christ so much that I would totally trust my life and the life of my family in him. One of my friends even states that he is leaving his options open. If he meets Christ when he dies then he will believe in him, if he doesn’t meet him then he has missed nothing in his life. Unfortunately without Christ in his life, he misses out on the richness of a relationship with God and when he meets Christ at his death, Christ will not know him and he will be separated from him. I also find it interesting that in their darkest times it is me they come to talk to.
We live in a world where faith, or trust, is in short supply. We do not put our faith and trust in each other easily. We only have to see the lack of trust by the people of Grenfell Tower in the authorities, over many years and the lack of trust in world leaders to provide a peaceful, caring and abundant environment for the people they serve.
Faith is defined as complete trust or confidence in someone or something. No wonder that Faith in God is really hard for many people, because we are asked to put our complete trust or confidence in God whom we come to know through his son Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God is with us.
But without total trust in him, God cannot work amongst us, the power of God in our lives is reduced and sometimes disappears. Psalm 78 tells of the people of Israel testing God, “When the LORD heard, he was full of rage, a fire was kindled against Jacob, his anger mounted against Israel, because they had no faith in God, and did not trust his saving power”. Whereas Psalm 31 tell us “But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God. My times are in your hand.’”
Without faith and trust in him, God cannot work amongst us.
Our Bible passages this evening show extraordinary faith from Mark 5:21-43 and Acts 9:32-42.
Jairus was a synagogue leader, a respected member of the community, very much like a Churchwarden. People consulted Jairus, Jairus looked after the synagogue and he took on the administration tasks. Jairus was part of the religious leaders who were hostile to Jesus. Yet Jairus, in full view of the crowd throws himself at Jesus feet in quite an undignified manner and begs him repeatedly to lay hands on his daughter who was dying. It must have taken a lot of courage for Jairus to seek out Jesus and to have so much faith and trust in him that God’s power would work through him and heal his daughter.
Then we have the story of woman who is haemorrhaging, sandwiched between the story of Jairus and his daughter. This woman was an outcast, classified as unclean; she shouldn’t come into contact with anyone as they would be contaminated. Yet she has total faith and trust in Jesus that he will heal her, if only she could touch him and God’s power would work through him. How can she be brave enough to get to him, she couldn’t talk to him face to face as she was unworthy and unclean but perhaps she could come into touching distance of him.
Both Jairus and the woman came to Jesus in humility and in fear, but with true faith and belief in who he is and their belief brought healing. Faith becomes a channel for Jesus to work in our lives. Jesus says to the woman ‘Your faith has made you well, go in peace and be healed’. To Jairus he says ‘Do not fear, only believe’ and he goes and brings his daughter back to life.
Jesus main purpose is to bring God’s kingdom into our world, he confronts evil in our world and through his death, resurrection and ascension claims his victory which is passed onto the Apostles. In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter heals Aeneas and brings Tabitha back to life, in the name of Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit working within Peter, something that only Jesus could do before. These were signs of God’s kingdom growing through Jesus disciples. Peter always tells the crowd that Jesus is the one that they should put their trust in. He is the cornerstone, the one they should build their lives upon, the one who cares and brings salvation and hope from God.
It is through building our lives on the foundation of Christ in whom we put our faith and trust that we receive God’s power in our lives. This I find is easier said than done when times become hard, when we experience suffering and sickness, but how important it us not to cut off this conduit of faith into our lives and the lives of others.
I have brought in my Garden Hose Pipe. Its purpose is to deliver water to my garden. But once it is unravelled, it’s defects appear and it is these defects that stop it delivering water. I go along the pipe straightening out the kinks so that the water can travel.
Our faith is like a garden hosepipe, God needs faithful people to deliver his power into our lives and those of others, but if our faith has some defects and some kinks, his power becomes limited and non-existent.
We don’t know how God will work in our lives in good times and bad times, but what we do know is to continue to have faith and trust in him. There are clearly many questions about the miracles.
Why didn’t Jesus heal all who were sick, why didn’t he raise all who had died to life again? These are valid questions but of course they miss the point of Jesus mission. His life was about bringing God’s kingdom into our world, he brought signs of God’s kingdom through healing, he showed the generosity of God’s kingdom, he confronts the evil that distorts our world and he brings new life, death is no more. Jesus Christ brings a new relationship with God, we receive forgiveness for confessed sins, we receive a new peace in our lives and we receive wholeness in our relationship with God that is beyond our understanding.
Faith and trust in God are the conduits that allow him to work in our lives and those of others and for us to live our lives in the fullness of a relationship with God himself, no matter our circumstances, knowing death is no more. Faith in God, can be really hard, but Christ has the victory and in him we trust.