A lot is said about the fact that God loves us and there is nothing we can do to earn God’s love or make Him love us any more or less. But just because God loves us doesn’t mean we’re always a pleasure to Him, any more than our own children always make us happy with some of their antics. How often do we consider whether or not we are pleasing to God? Scripture indicates that there is one characteristic which, if we lack it, we are guaranteed to be disagreeable to Him.
“Without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). This is a verse that makes me quake a little whenever I read it.
For much of my Christian life, I did not have real faith. Oh, I believed Jesus had died to take on the penalty of my sins, and that my eternal security was in Him. I believed that He had a plan and purpose for my life, and that He was sovereign, in ultimate control. But that is hope. Important, viable, but in the intellectual realm, and always a little distant in the future.
But the faith that Jesus got excited about wherever He encountered it, the faith that is lauded throughout Hebrews chapter 11, is exemplified in quite a different way than the faith that I had. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for, and assurance of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). This faith expects the kingdom of heaven, and not for some distant day, but for the present circumstances. This is the faith that knows firsthand the unwavering goodness of God. This is the faith that often flies in the face of reason or dares to defy statistics and probability, because it does not trust in what is apparent to the eyes. This is the faith that allows for physical healing, deliverance from mental illness, release from drug addiction, and even dares to pray for the dead to come back to life. This is the faith that is incompatible with worry.
Real faith, to much of the professing church, is foolishness. To go out on a limb when prompted by God to move, to give up a stable income in exchange for uncertainty, to boldly expect radical healing of stage four cancer . . . “Well, of course God can do anything, but let’s be realistic. . .” is often the nagging response to real faith. This is the voice of the natural mind, doing battle with the spirit so that ultimately, there’s a failure to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth.
My friend Rev. E. Daniel Martin sometimes prays, “Father, You said that ‘the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!’ Forgive us for thinking it was far away, for some other day, for some other person.”
So often as a parent, my children sink my heart the most not when they’re being naughty, but when they reveal through words or actions that they don’t have faith in me. That they think somehow I am incapable of knowing what is best for them when I ask them to do something. When they think they know better and take matters into their own hands. Never am I so disappointed with them when they fail to have faith in my capability and my kindness. Oh, to think that what I feel as a flawed human parent is just a fraction of what the Father feels when I doubt His ability, or worse that “His will” is simply something other than immeasurable goodness for me!
For the supernatural, “foolish” faith that pleases God, I find that I need to be in the Word, hearing faith-filled teaching and preaching, and being around other faith-filled brothers and sisters all the time – otherwise, the world will sap it right out of me. But when I’m saturated with all that, my measure of faith soars and I dare to pray the impossible.