Faulty faith – January 20, 2019
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
1 John 5:13
“I’ve lost my faith in religion.” the Navy wife said. With her two children, she had been living in Florida and now moved back to her hometown. She added that she did not think she would let her children go to Sunday School. “Why bring them up to believe in something I no longer believe myself?”
She used to have faith in religion. She used to have a wonderful life. Then her wonderful husband became a KIA (killed in action). That’s when her world fell apart. So, she thought, did her faith.
Our hearts must go out to such a person. Only those who have suffered such loss can appreciate the agony this mother was going through. The situation called for a response with compassion, tact—and the truth.
The truth is that she had been making a grave mistake by placing her faith in religion.
Not that religion is a bad thing, especially if the religion is tied to the Word of God. But religion is only a system of beliefs. Never do we want to say, “I believe in Christianity”, or, “I believe in Lutheranism.” That would be a faulty faith. Religion, itself, dare never become the object of faith. Only the Savior God can hold that position.
The new widow felt that religion had betrayed her. She was saying, “What good is religion if it cannot keep you safe?”
She needed to understand that religion is not a way of getting God on your side so that you can escape the heartaches of life.
Jesus has laid out what his followers should expect: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). The lives of some of his famous followers illustrate this. These are the words the Apostle Paul used to describe his life: “Frequently imprisoned; severely flogged; beaten with stones and left for dead; shipwrecked; knowing hunger and thirst” (2 Corinthians 11:23-27). Finally, he was executed.
So, what good did his religion do for him? Everything good!
His religion consisted in placing his faith in the Savior God who sent his Son to rescue him. That faith placed him into heaven’s royal family. He became the adopted child of the holy, eternal God. The Good Shepherd counted him as one of his own.
The Son of God included him in the announcement: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
Thus, the apostle could say: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” He rejected the idea that hardship or suffering is a sign that God has failed his people.
“No,” he wrote, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:28,37).
Faith in Jesus as the Savior is not a good-luck charm. It is the laying hold of the victory won on Golgotha. It is the receiving of power and protection from on high. It is the expecting that life in this world will be turbulent and painful at times.
It is the firm conviction that the Lord of earth and heaven is on our side; he will never leave us; he will carry us through the storms of life. He will land us on heaven’s shore.
If that faith is ours, we know we have eternal life.
Such faith is never faulty.
We pray the prayer of the hymnist:
Oh, for a faith that will not shrink though pressed by many a foe,
That will not tremble on the brink of poverty or woe,
That will not murmur nor complain beneath the chast’ning rod,
But in the hour of grief or pain can lean upon its God. Amen.
(Christian Worship 405:1,2)
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
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