Summary: God’s word to Habakkuk: "The rightous will live by their faith" has been the source of renewal and reformation throughout the ages.
Instructions For Living:
“Live By Faith!”
We are living by faith. I can say this about all people today regardless of our religious preferences, our acceptance or denial of the existence of God, and without knowing anyone’s understanding of God’s Word. All people are living by faith. The question is, “What do you have faith in? In whom are you placing your faith today?” Are you living by faith in yourself? Are you a survivor -- placing your confidence in your ability to survive the pitfalls, challenges, and trials of everyday life? Are you a good moral person -- confident in your ability to do the “right” thing even when the pressure to take a short cut presses in on you? Are you a self-made man or woman? Do you look at what you have “achieved” in this life and stand in amazement at your brilliance, ingenuity, and passionate determination? Are you connected – having powerful and influential friends that you can call upon for most any need that you could ever have in life? Are you the captain of your own soul? Are you the master of your own fate? The 18th century English poet, William Ernest Henley, expressed this kind of unconquerable confidence when he wrote his famous poem, Invictus. Henley writes,
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul. (William Ernest Henley)
Throughout history there have been legions in every generation who claimed to be the captain’s of their own soul, the makers of their own destiny. They had faith in nothing, nor anyone, but themselves. One of the most well known spokesmen for this resistance to God was the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, the man who proclaimed, “God is dead.” Nietzsche saw no value in placing faith in God. His passion in life was to eradicate faith in everything except himself. He once wrote,
The strong individual...has the strength to recognize--and to live with the recognition--that the world is valueless in itself and that all values are human ones. He creates himself by fashioning his own values; he has the pride to live by the values he wills. (Friedrich Nietzsche)
Nietzsche’s descendants are still with us. Just last weekend there was a gathering at the Mall in Washington, a place where I once gathered with my sons, some of the men of this church, and one million other men from across the country for the purpose of crying out to God in prayer. The gathering this past weekend was for a different purpose. Those who gathered in Washington labeled their day at the Mall – “The Godless Americans March on Washington.” An article from Sunday’s Washington Times reported on the event by saying,
Thousands of nonbelievers converged on the Mall yesterday to demand equal rights under the Constitution and separation between politics and the pulpit during the first-ever Godless Americans March on Washington. The roughly 2,000 demonstrators from around the nation — self-proclaimed atheists, agnostics, freethinkers and secular humanists — toted cardboard signs that read, "One Nation Under the Constitution," "Religion Kills" and "God is a Fairytale." (Denise Barnes, Nonbelievers March on Mall, The Washington Times, November 3, 2002)
We are all living by faith. We may have faith in God, but then again we may have placed our faith in someone or something else. When we are sick and the news is grim we may place our faith in the best doctor we can find. When the market dips, and then dips some more, we may place our faith in our financial planner to help us navigate the perils of poverty. Rather than trusting in the protective hand of God to preserve our lives, we may be trusting in the military might of our nation. We may have faith in our mate, our husband or wife. We may have faith in science to eventually eradicate all of the ills that plague us in society. We may have faith that if we do the “right” things that everything will work out. We all have faith, but what are you putting your faith in today?
There are many churchgoers today who say that their faith rests in God and yet there isn’t enough evidence to convict them in a court of law. When the sun is shining and the birds are singing, when their team wins and their bottom line is booming, then they proclaim the glories of God. He is so good! When the tide turns, oh when the tide turns…well then our shaky faith in God is exposed for what it truly is…empty words with no foundation. When hard times hit we fuss and fume; we shrink back and our faith swivels up like a raisin in the sun.