Thursday, May 26, 2016

Packing Our Faith with Power

UV 1675/10000 Packing Our Faith with Power
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
I Peter 1 v 7
Faith is valuable as it is a balm to heal our wounds, a guard to our footsteps, a guide to our decisions, a boost to our courage, a foundation to wisdom, a sail to catch the wind of God's favour or grace, a goad to greater efforts, an anchor in the storms of life, a reason to accept and love people as they are. It is an energiser and a stabiliser. It is the dynamo, the rudder and the steering wheel. Anything valuable is to be tested for two reasons: to test if it is authentic or true and to further purify or refine it to the highest level possible. Paul wrote that when all that is there in life is squeezed, the essence that remains is faith, hope and love, of which the greatest is love. Our faith if it is true and real is tested and refined even as our love for God and fellow being is tested and refined. Faith is the equivalent in the kingdom of God as gold in the human economy. Gold is tested and refined in the crucible of fire even as our faith is tested and refined in the crucible of suffering in the name of Jesus.
Once our faith is tested in suffering and we hold onto our trust in God and Jesus, our confidence in the Holy Spirit, we are marked by the Spirit of God as “approved” or as a good and faithful servant to whom more can be given, more blessings as well as responsibilities. We are tested both by trials of suffering as well as temptations of this world. Just as gold is tested seven times over, the believer is tested and tempted in many ways and that is why scripture refers to it as “manifold suffering”. The tests, trials and tribulations are meant not only to authenticate but to remove the dross or impurities of thoughts, motives, desires, words, gestures, reactions and attitudes that we are accustomed to. The purification process is sometimes like a sieve, sometimes like a furnace, sometimes like a refining soap to wash us. The less we resent, resist, refuse these trials and tests, the more we yield, welcome, accept and acquiesce to these tests, the faster and more effective the process of the purification of our faith. The tests will establish whether our faith weakens or gets even stronger in moments of crisis, periods of suffering. Do we cry out to God, for God in our “lema sabachthani” moments, do we cling to Him for comfort and strength?
Building, testing, refining faith is like building a six pack body: the first pack is our thoughts. We need to take every thought captive to glorify or honour God and Christ in us. The second pack is our speech. Our words have to be run through some “question filters” to emerge pure and wholesome. The third pack is our emotions- we need to avoid a murmuring or complaining attitude. The fourth pack is our motives, goals and priorities. We should not be motivated by selfish gain or pleasure or power or ambition but by the focus on building the kingdom of God. The fifth pack is our patience, perseverance and diligence. The sixth pack is our love for God and compassion for people. If our faith is without love it is useless and fit to throw on the rubbish heap, according to St Paul. Jesus was not weak but the toughest guy in history. We need to fix our eyes on Him and emulate Him in our exercise of faith and expression of love. We may pray like Jabez, “ Lord, keep me from pain and grant my desires” but if pain is God’s will we should willingly submit to the pain. From the perspective of the Lord, pain is a great discipliner and affliction a great teacher of the attributes of God that we should emulate.

Prateep V Philip

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