Gotta Have Faith
I have to admit that it is nearly impossible for me to sit down and actively think and write about the topic of faith without the chorus from the old George Michael song “Faith” popping into my head:
'Cause I gotta have faith I gotta' have faith Because I gotta have faith, faith, faith I got to have faith, faith, faith
If you know the song, you know it’s a catchy little chorus. If it wasn’t, the song wouldn’t have been as popular as it was. But it also, interestingly enough, declares a basic truth for all of us. Faith is essential in being able to look to the future with hope and excitement. The song features a young man who is choosing to have faith in, to believe he has a chance to win over a young lady’s affections. I’m not a big fan of the cold winter weather so I am choosing to have faith in, to believe that spring will come in just a few months once again to the upper Midwest. We have faith in lots of things and people in our lives. We have faith in our spouses to be honest, loving, kind, and true. We have faith in our employers to pay us our earned wages. We have faith in the other drivers on the road being responsible drivers and not causing us to have an accident.
Faith, at its most basic level, is a complete trust or confidence in someone or something. We all have to some level of faith to simply live our daily lives. To constantly question every minute detail of our lives would be exhausting.
Faith, at a spiritual level, is also something everyone exercises. Being a Christian means we have faith in the God of the Bible. We believe God to be the creator of all things, seen and unseen. We believe we are created in the image and likeness of God. We believe in God’s plan for salvation of all of humanity through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. We believe in a Triune God which includes the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. If you go to a more traditional church, you most likely stand and declare what you have faith in each Sunday as you recite either the Nicene or Apostle’s Creed. These statements declare the basics of what we, as Christians, choose to have faith are truth.
So if we experience faith in some way, and if all Christians specifically experience faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, then do we all have the spiritual gift of faith? Not exactly. In a way which is similar to everyone being capable of knowledge and wisdom, of giving and serving, but not everyone having these as spiritual gifts, the spiritual gift of faith is something different than the faith we all exercise on a regular basis.
The gift of faith is a special ability God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to discern with extraordinary confidence the will and purposes of God. Faith in this context means someone is able to believe with unwavering confidence that God will work in what appears to be an impossible situation. The gift of faith is the faith which has the power to move mountains and part the seas.
There are two professions which come to mind when I think about people who are likely to have the gift of faith: farming and missionaries. Those who are called to farming have to trust each year, regardless of the weather and the markets, that they will have a crop they can sell for enough to provide for themselves, their family, any employees they may have, and allow them to invest in next year’s crop to do it all over again. They cannot force a seed to grow without water nor can they force the rain to stop before it causes a flood. They cannot force the sun to shine on certain days nor can they prevent fierce winds and storms from destroying a crop just before harvest. With so many key factors to success being outside of their control, farming is not actually a logical choice for anyone. Similarly, missionaries often rely on the gifts of others to be able to live in a place far away from home, often speaking a new language and not always exactly welcome in their chosen land, and share the Gospel with people who may or may not want to listen. Each month they have to have faith that God will provide for their needs and keep them safe.
However, the gift of faith is found in all walks of life. It is found in the person who refuses to stop praying even after decades. It is found in the person who steadfastly proclaims the truth of Christ in the face of danger or even death. It is found in the person who cannot see anything other than an answer to prayer in the face of an impossible situation. It is found in the teacher who refuses to give up on a struggling student. It is found in the health care professional who believes that prayer is just as important as medicine when life hangs in the balance.
Just as important is understand what the gift of faith is not. Too often too many people who are struggling are told “Just have a little faith” when they seek help and empathy from their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. For me personally, the most heartbreaking stories are from friends of mine who, as they watched a spouse or child die way too young, were told their loved one would be healed if they just had a little more faith in God. While yes, Jesus does reference not being able to perform miracles because of a lack of faith (see Mark 6, Matthew 13), targeting someone’s personal faith is not the lesson to be learned from those stories. To have the sort of faith which never wavers or doubts in the face of adversity is a special gift from the Holy Spirit. Most of us don’t have that gift, most of us don’t have that sort of faith.
We must guard against the idea that those with the gift of faith are in some way “more saved” or more deserving of salvation than the rest of us. Jesus paid the same price for all of us, regardless of our “level” of faith in Him, to save each of us. He paid that price even before we put our faith in Him as our Lord and Savior. Additionally, the gift of faith is just that, a gift. It is freely given by the Holy Spirit. It is not earned. We can’t just be a better Christian to earn our way to supernatural faith.
The gift of faith is given to the church, as all of the gifts of the Spirit are, to build up the body of Christ. Those with the gift of faith specifically are often the ones to inspire us to a greater trust in God. Hebrews 11 famously lists multiple people of great faith from the Old Testament who are examples of great faith. They believed that God would fulfill His promises, even if those promises seemed impossible, even if those promises would not be fulfilled in their lifetimes. But the legacy they leave behind even still today shows others what it means to fully trust God. Their stories remind us that even when we can’t see the ending on this side of heaven, God will make all things new.
- Take a few minutes and read through Hebrews 11. How many stories are you familiar with? Which story inspires you the most?
- Can you think of someone in our modern world who might have the gift of faith? How does their faith inspire you in your faith and relationship with Jesus?