All Posts in Category: (06) The Mechanics of Life
We live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7
If you spent money today, you operated by faith! A one dollar bill is only paper. Nonetheless, it has power. Why? Note the words “The United States of America.” They represent the authority of the federal government. Second, observe the words “Federal Reserve Note.” The government promises that your piece of paper has $1 worth of purchasing power. The third element is trust. If neither the seller nor buyer has trust in the governing authority, the paper becomes worthless! Finally, the system requires action: selling and buying. These are the mechanics of faith: authority, promise, trust and action.
A rather humorous Bible story demonstrates faith. Abraham and Sarah had been childless their entire marriage. At age 75 Abraham was promised a baby boy by the Maker. Sarah laughed at the promise. Can you blame her? Nonetheless, “The Lord was good to Sarah and kept His promise. Although Abraham was 100 years old, Sarah had a son exactly at the time God had said. Abraham named his son Isaac (meaning he laughs).”(Genesis 22:1-3)
Years later Paul commented: “Abram never wavered in believing God’s promise. He was fully convinced that God has the power to do whatever He promises.” (Romans 4:20-21)
God, the governing authority, made a promise to Abraham who trusted the promise. We’re left with action. Inquiring minds want to know: what exactly did Abraham and Sarah DO for 25 years? Get it? The Maker is not a killjoy, lacking a sense of humor. Just ask old Abraham and Sarah! Oh, by the way, undoubtedly God got the last laugh!
Check this out … read more about the Mechanics of life in our Faith on Fridays series—
Abraham went on hoping in faith, relying on the promise of God that he would become “the father of many nations”. With undaunted faith he looked at the facts: his own impotence and his Sarah’s barrenness. Yet he refused to allow any distrust of God to make him waver. He drew strength from his faith, absolutely convinced that God was able to implement His own promise. Romans 4:18-21
Many suppose that belief is contrary to reason, that to believe one must bury one’s head in the sand; you know, blind faith. After all, faith and facts don’t mix. Well, the story of Abraham and Sarah indicates otherwise (cf. Mechanics of Life). Note the words—“he looked at the facts.” The Greek word means: 1) to consider from the bottom to the top; 2) to concentrate by fixing one’s thinking; 3) to perceive clearly; and 4) to understand fully and closely. So, at least in the Manual faith looks facts squarely in the eyes; BUT ….
Consider the Law of Gravity, simplified. There’s a force that draws objects to the center of the earth … unless another object of equal or greater force intervenes to inhibit the downward thrust. If you throw a ball in the air, it will drop to the earth unless you catch it in your hands. Your hands act as a greater force than the downward thrust of gravity. Similarly, faith confronts facts with greater potency, rendering the facts weak, comparatively speaking.
These were the indisputable facts: Abraham was impotent and Sarah was barren. According to the laws of physiology the odds of having a child were ABSOLUTELY ZERO! “Yet Abraham drew strength from his faith, absolutely convinced that God was able to implement His own promise.” When Old Abe was confronted by the downward thrust of the facts (impotence and barrenness), he injected the promise of Father that “he would become the father of many nations.” The power of faith trumps the laws of nature (review Peter’s water-walking.) Please don’t think this vulgar or crude—it’s reality according to the Manual!—Abraham’s insertion of faith produced physical insertions for twenty five years!
As is often the case, if the facts of your life are exceedingly downward, please consider: “Darkness comes. In the middle of it, the future looks blank. The temptation to quit is huge. Don’t. You are in good company… You will argue with yourself that there is no way forward. But with God, nothing is impossible. He has more ropes and ladders and tunnels out of pits than you can conceive. Wait. Pray without ceasing. Hope!” (John Piper)
For years I have shopped at a national tool store that promises a 90 day unrestricted warranty on every product. They’ve always delivered on their promise!
The Bible contains a warranty that includes over 3000 promises (check out the Mechanics of Life). I want to examine the first and most important promise in the Manual (cf. Genesis 3).
You’ve probably seen a TV commercial that ends with the line: “But wait! There’s MORE!” That’s the hook “the ancient Serpent, the one called Devil and Satan” used on Eve. The fruit of the forbidden tree held the MORE! “When the Woman realized what she would get out of it, she ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband. At that moment they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness.” Immediately Life was damaged causing dis-ease and death. What would the Manufacturer do?
With compassion Father entered the Garden with a warranty. He promised to free His kids from the shackles of Satan. “God spoke to Satan. ‘I’m declaring war between you and the Woman, between your offspring and hers. He’ll wound your head, you’ll wound His heel.’” The Old Testament is a prelude to the Big Battle: “But when the right time came, God sent His Son, who was born of a woman so that He could buy freedom for the slaves of Satan.” “At the Cross Jesus was wounded for our rebellious acts …” At the Cross the Serpent’s head was crushed: “The battle was won over Satan and his minions through Christ.”
So, “If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing Himself to the worst by sending His own Son, is there anything else He wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? That’s an UNCONDITIONAL WARRANTY!
YOU ARE THERE, an early tv series, blended history with modern technology, taking a network newsroom on a figurative time warp reporting the great events of the past. The first episode on February 1, 1953 featured a re-enactment of the Hindenburg disaster. Yes, I remember it well!
AS YOU READ THE PASSAGE BELOW IMAGINE: YOU ARE THERE!
The boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and the disciples were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror. But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.” Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus.”
THE $64,000 QUESTION premiered June 7, 1955. Contestants chose a subject category (such as “Boxing”, “Lincoln” or “Jazz”). The contestant would then be asked questions only in the chosen category, earning money which doubled ($64, $128, $256 to $512, then $1,000, $2,000, $4,000, $8,000, $16,000, $32,000 to $64,000) as the questions became more difficult.
HERE’S THE $64,00 QUESTION: WHERE ARE YOU: IN THE BOAT OR ON THE WATER.
Obviously, the boat represents man-made control and security: power, wealth, status, stamina, sex, cultural norms, spiritual beliefs and behavior. However, Erich Fromm cuts through this boat facade: Whoever insists on safety and security as primary conditions of life makes himself a prisoner.” John Elderidge nails the point: Security is not found in the absence of danger, but in the presence of Jesus.
For each one the song below is an invitation to ponder “The $64,ooo Question”.
Faith in Jesus makes up the Mechanics of Life.
Some men came, bringing to Jesus a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” (Mark 2:1-7)
We know little about the people in this episode. One man was paralyzed, unable to get to Jesus. He had four male friends that would literally do anything to get him to Jesus. (Today, they would have been arrested for B&E.) The shocker of the incident is Jesus’ words: “When Jesus saw THEIR faith….” One man’s healing was rooted in the faith of four others. What do you make of that? Isn’t faith a very personal matter … like between me and Jesus?
Obviously, faith is personal. To a blind man Jesus said, “Your faith has healed you” (Mark 10:52). But, apparently faith is also corporate in nature—“When Jesus saw their faith….” The Philippian jailor asked Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household” (Acts 16:30-31). The disciple community offers the same evidence. If Peter wanted to follow Jesus, he had to walk with Matthew, the despised tax collector. So, to state it profoundly, there are no “Lone Ranger Christians!”
Seriously, what shall we make of this faith phenomenon? Let’s return to the foundation! After the Creator pronounced seven “goods” we read this startling statement: “It is not good for the male person to be alone.” The human spirit was fabricated for fellowship. Furthermore, whereas in our dis-eased condition we pretend that we’re solitarily invincible, the truth is that we need another more than ever. Of the Gethsemane experience we are told: “Becoming anguished and distressed, Jesus said to Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, ‘My soul is deeply grieved, even to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with me’” (Mark 14:33-34). And then this: “At three o’clock, Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, ‘My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me?’” (Mark 15:34).
Now this fact becomes understandable: there are no less than 59 “One Anothers” in the New Testament. Here are a few examples: “Carry each other’s burdens…” (Galatians 6:2), “Confess your sins to each other…” (James 5:16), “…Build each other up…” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). The point is this: as with the original Twelve the journey of faith is built upon the foundation of community, of togetherness, of one another-ness!
“When Jesus saw their faith ….” Faith and Friends! They go together like “peas and carrots”!
Check back as we continue our Faith on Fridays series.