Thoughts on Faith, Fear, and Judging Others

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Faith has to be connected to something – an object. Every human being operates by faith everyday; I may believe intellectually that a chair will hold me, but I faithe in the chair when I sit.

Faith is based on the nearest thing to a certainty. Then we leap. “Most chairs have held me. Therefore this one will.” We don’t yet know this one will hold us, not until we sit on it. But we leap. Such faith we don’t even have to think about, because it becomes a spontaneous, subconscious assumption. We learn this faith in many areas as children if we grow up in a safe and loving environment. If not, we end up assailed by many fears, insecurities, a sense of inadequacy.

God in Christ gives us an anchor for faith, a chair that will never break, a foundation that will never crumble. That is why “The people of God shall be strong and do exploits.” That gives us the ability to step out in faith in everyday situations and do the impossible and unexpected.

Unfortunately most of us don’t live in that kind of Christ-reliance in all areas of our lives, myself included. But that’s really what the life of being progressively conformed to Christ’s image is all about. Faith is a growing thing. We get good at it by doing it.

This is one reason we can’t judge by a person’s behavior. We have no idea how they grew up. We have no concept of their fears, the terror, the lies that have penetrated their soul. We cannot know what strong faith they may already possess because we are likely unaware of what they’ve already overcome.

When renovating a house, furniture is taken out, carpeting is torn up, walls are broken down, entire rooms demolished. We look at one of God’s human houses and say, “What a mess this guy is. He needs to read more, pray more, give more. He needs to be filled with the Holy Spirit. If he was, he wouldn’t look like such a mess.” In other words, “He needs to have it all together, like me.” By judging we prescribe our own medicine – Law, self-effort, and works – rather than trusting in God’s working in and on the man, and speaking encouraging truth in love. We miss the fact that God is doing major surgery through the man’s troubles, struggles, and even his sins (this is not to blame God for sin, but that He uses everything in a believer’s life for His own love-purposes).

But God works on a man how He chooses, and doesn’t really give a rip what people think about it.

What he is looking for is for us step out in faith in what He says in the Word.

Here’s what he says about the Christ-indwelt person:
“You are holy.” What does it look like to put our full weight in that chair?

“You are loved.” How does that show in our attitude when we stand on that Rock?

“If any man is in Christ, he is (not ‘will be’) a new creation.” What does it look like to be a totally new person, I mean, if we really believed it? Would it show, like our faith in a chair results in the chair holding us?

We can’t flip-flop this and “try to behave” without first replacing our unbelief. I can beat on my vacuum cleaner all day to get it to behave according to the manufacturer’s specs, but it’s not going to happen until I plug it in and turn it on.

Winner of 147 Grammys (or so), Ron Block is the banjo-ninja portion of Alison Kraus and Union Station. When he’s not laying down a bluegrass-style martial-arts whoopin’ on audiences around the world, he’s taking care of his donkey named “Trash” and keeping himself busy by being one of the most well-read and thoughtful people we know.


10 Comments

  1. Paul Capps

    Reminds me an unattributed quote our pastor mentioned during staff meeting yesterday: ‘The opposite of faith is not doubt; the opposite of faith is fear.’

  2. Paula Jacobson

    These sentiments are exactly what we are trying to emulate in our lives as well as instructing our four blessings. Application…why is it so hard? Lord give us all the desire to use the wisdom provided, given in your word!

    Thanks Ron!

  3. Aaron Roughton

    “We cannot know what strong faith they may already possess because we are likely unaware of what they’ve already overcome.”

    Lewis talks about this in Mere Christianity (I think). What a wonderful perspective shift from normal self righteous attitudes. It was a kick in the pants for me.

    Thanks for the reminder Ron.

  4. Eric Jacobson

    Ron,
    Very insightful. I am reminded of what Paul reminds us through the Holy Spirit:

    “What God has begun in us He will complete.” God does nothing in half-measures.Cultivating a close relationship with the “most winsome Being in the universe” will indeed cause us to walk in a strong and confident faith.

  5. Aaron Crossley

    “When renovating a house, furniture is taken out, carpeting is torn up, walls are broken down, entire rooms demolished.”

    It reminds me of a sermon I heard by Tony Evans of how painful that remodeling process can be on personal level: “God can’t remodel the house until he tears down the walls.”

  6. Loriann S.

    Aaron,

    C.S. Lewis compares it to the kind of car we’re driving through life. Some have a beauty, and some are bombing around in an old junk. Only the Great One knows the condition of our earthly rides. He alone is equipped to judge the process. And He says “I didn’t come into the world to condemn the world, but to save it”. Wow!

    Enjoyed this post, Ron.

    Your friend on the pilgrim road,

    Loriann

  7. Leesa Hicks

    Ron

    Romans 8:28 “For God does work all things to the good of those who love Him” Life’s “broken chairs” do hurt and they can create fear of the unknown. Such as when a person’s son dies. The unthinkable has happened and one must realize that Satan also lives in this world. The only difference between keeping the faith in God’s promises and caving into bitterness. You see the goodness in the tragedy and you want to make sure that God is glorified in repairing the broken chair rather than allowing the chair to stay broken.

    Blessings
    Leesa

  8. Ron Block

    @ronblock

    Leesa,

    Life has broken chairs – yes. We go to sit in something and it falls apart.

    We have to realize that in reality – actual Reality – there are no broken chairs. God always keeps His Word, even if we don’t see it, even if we are torn apart by life – He desires to teach us that all things do work together for good to those who love Him, the called according to His purpose. No broken chairs. No wasted time. We are schooled by everything that happens to us.

    The broken chairs that happen in this temporary framework of the Seen are designed to give us a choice. In a sense we are entrusted by the Creator of the universe with some chairs that break; we are entrusted with Choice. What will I do with this apparently broken chair, and the hurt done to me in the breaking of it? Will I trust God and walk in faith again, or will I put up, shut up, hide, and shrink back in a desire to never be hurt in this way again?

    People in this seen realm who have unreasonable fears about ordinary things – going outside, spiders, enclosed spaces, crowds – are considered as having a mental aberration, a little bit of mental ill-health.

    What, then, of not trusting God? It is the ultimate in ill-health – spiritually, mentally, and eventually, if persisted in, even physically.

    Broken chairs along the way give us the exercise in faith-ing, to build the reliance on Christ that we will need for future endeavors.

  9. Leesa Hicks

    We must choose to either stay frozen with fear or move forward in faith. Joshua 1:7-9 became the verse that helped me to move forward rather than frozen.

    Thanks for all that you do

    Leesa

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