Summary: How powerful is your faith? A better question: How powerful is WHO you place your faith in?
Is this logic true….
I believe I am successful – therefore I am successful.
I believe I will prevail – therefore I prevail.
I believe in God – therefore there is a God.
If I believe in something strong enough, does my belief somehow shape the resulting situation, reality, event?
We have all seen the athlete being interviewed who tells us that they just believed they could do it, and so they won the race; We have also seen the successful entrepreneur who tells us the same thing, “I believed I could do it, that is why I am successful”; Late night infomercials prod us the same way, encouraging us to believe we can….and it will be so.
In downtown San Antonio sits the Alamodome, a 65,000 seat facility that opened in 1993 for a cost of 186 million. Following the field of dreams philosophy, the city, eager to have a professional football franchise pushed to complete the Texas size facility, “if you build it, they will come”. This huge facility has the ability to host several events at once.
If we believe it strong enough, if we believe it long enough, if we believe, our faith will make it happen.
Apparently not. This month at the Alamodome you could see a monster truck show, a boat show, or the national championship of cheerleading, but you can’t see a professional football game. Over 20 years since the Alamodome’s conception and San Antonio has failed to attract a professional football team…
I run into people who tell me that they used to be Christians, but they gave up, because, “it doesn’t work”. These folks say they had believed, well, they tried to believe…and if our conversation goes on, I will find out that prayers were said, that weren’t answered, hopes never came to fruition, people died, failures ensued, disappointment reigned. It breaks my heart to hear these kind of stories.
The classic test an atheist will give to prove there is no God is this: “If there is a God, let him, kill me right now”. When nothing happens, they will confidently claim, “See there is no God, for I am still alive and well.” Now if we were to ask the atheist, “What if someone came up to you at this very moment and shot you? Would that prove that there is a God?” “No, of course not”, the atheist would respond, “God has to do it himself”.
Oh, I see how it is.
We set the parameters of the possible results, we set the goals that must be achieved, we set the process to work out the results…so when events happen, or when events don’t happen THEN we know our faith is real, or not, THEN we know if something is real or not.
In the early days of the church thousands of Christians were chased down, enslaved, imprisoned and murdered – Was their faith not real, was their faith not strong enough, because things obviously didn’t work out for them. Today in Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Christians are enslaved, imprisoned and murdered – Is their faith not real enough, is their faith not strong enough, because clearly, things are not working out for them either…
Our faith. Our belief.
When you and I believe, what does it mean?
Let’s turn to our Scripture today, 1 John 1:1-4.
The Apostle John is writing us concerning our faith. John is now quite old, probably in his 90’s and is perhaps the last surviving disciple of Jesus. This book was written about 50 or 60 years after Jesus death and resurrection. John also wrote the Gospel of John and the book of Revelation.
John, he was one of the sons of Zebedee, “the sons of thunder” along with his brother James. He was probably a pretty intense man. Originally a fisherman who spoke what was on his mind, John along with Peter and James, formed Jesus’ inner circle, in fact John was most certainly Jesus’ favorite and the closest one to Jesus during his time here on earth.
Here is a man who knows what he is talking about when he talks to us about Jesus. Personal knowledge, firsthand knowledge, long term knowledge – what is John’s take on belief in Jesus? John tells us that Jesus is more real than we can ever imagine.
These first four verses of the book of 1 John, actually, they are one long and very complicated single sentence. This is a very difficult sentence to translate from the Greek into English. In many English translations, work very hard in an attempt to have this sentence make sense in English. What we have here is very difficult and very complex. But because of the complexity here, we have great insight into the meaning of faith.