Summary: This message looks at how God builds faith in us - through our heart, soul, mind and strength.
Warning! I’m Under Construction - How God Builds Faith - September 7, 2014
Today we’re on the 2nd in a series that’s called: “Warning! I’m Under Construction.
Last week we looked at how God builds, how He constructs our character so that we become more and more like Jesus, more and more free, more and more loving, more and more committed to God’s Kingdom purposes and more and more faithful.
If you missed that one, you can check it out on our podcast page on our web site.
Today we’re looking at the question: “How does God build faith? How does God construct our faith?” Let’s begin.
One day, Jesus is asked a question by a person who has dedicated his life to learning, a Pharisee, a Teacher of the Law. This fellow had overheard Jesus in a debate with Sadducees.
He was impressed with Jesus, with His speaking skills, with his parables or stories, with His ability to respond to tricky questions that were designed to trip Him up.
He was impressed with Jesus’ depth of
knowledge of the Scriptures and His commitment to searching the Scriptures for the ultimate answers to life.
And so this fellow, this Teacher of the Law, asked Jesus: ‘Of all the commandments, of everything we have ever heard from God about what it means to really live, about what it means to have a full, rich life, a life that pleases and honours God - what is the most important thing?’ That’s my paraphrase of his question.
The Teacher is looking for one commandment to wrap everything together, one big idea to weave everything together. and Jesus gives him 2.
Two commandments that together are the most critical piece, that highest truth.
Jesus said what matters the most is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind. St. Mark in his gospel adds “and all your strength”, which expresses Jesus complete thought on the matter.
AND he said that the second command is like the first: “Love your neighbour as you love yourself”
We’re talking today about how God builds faith in us.
And I want to suggest that we can answer this question in good measure by considering that question through the lens of this passage, called the Great Commandment.
Jesus highlights 4 things: the heart, the soul, the mind and then our strength. I want to look at the first 3 and then the 4th.
For the sake of understanding how it is that God builds faith in us, let’s look at the first 3 in reverse. I want to thank Pastor Timothy Keller for some of the following ideas and some direct quotes as well.
Jesus says to love the Lord our God with our mind. Now it’s true in some circles, that are quite hostile to faith and particularly to Christian faith, that the assumption is made that people who become Christians, people who follow classical, orthodox Christian beliefs, do that because they just want to believe.
They would rather not ask a lot of questions. They don’t want to think.
It’s believed in some circles that thinking is almost opposite to faith, that critical contemplation is the polar opposite to believing. Faith, in the popular mindset is put over against thinking.
Like most assumptions, it is quite a mistaken one. “I want to say that faith consists of, requires and stimulates the profoundest thinking, reasoning and rationality. You can’t be a Christian without using your brain to the uttermost.
“The reason there’s not much faith today is because there’s not much thinking today. Norman Cousins, an American political journalist and professor, puts it this way.
“He says: “Our age is not the age of the meditative man. It’s a sprinting, shoving age.
“Daily new antidotes for contemplation spring into being a leap out from store counters”, and nowadays spring at us from our Facebook feed and Yahoo news feed, I would add.
“Immanual Kant, a great philosopher, said that there are 3 questions all thinking people have to wrestle through and come up with a working answer for if you're going to live a thoughtful life, an examined life.
“How can I know what’s real? What ought I to do that’s right? What can I hope for, what can I live for?
“Our culture says that those questions are for the philosophers.
The important things are your standard of living, your career, your appearance, your psychological needs. And therefore religion, philosophy, all that stuff - ‘how do I know?, how do I decide right and wrong? “What is meaning?’
We’re taught to say “that’s not important.” That is not doubt on the basis of thinking. That is doubt based on an absence of thinking. A refusal to think.
If we look in Matthew chapter 6, where Jesus is teaching and comforting his disciples and likely a crowd that had gathered. To this nervous, oppressed, worried group of people who are wondering about life and about God, Jesus says: