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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Faith, Inc.

“But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.”

A while back, I read a piece written by a fellow believer on the subject of finding peace in the quest to live one’s life in the will of God. I’d link to it but it has not yet been published. A major theme of his paper was that both the peace of God and the will of God are often found corporately rather than individually; that it was not intended that we live our Christian lives in isolation from other believers, but rather that we discover God’s will together through submission to one another and to him.

Corporate, eh? Interesting idea, and almost surely not one prompted by the spirit of the age in which we currently live.

It strikes me that there are two ways in which one can approach others seeking advice, advocating for truth or gathering support; one right, and one … not so much. The difference is often evident from the level of persuasion one feels compelled to exert in order to get the imprimatur of other believers on one’s desires.

Which is where our verse comes in.

Faith In Action

The man or woman who genuinely seeks for and prizes the will of God above all else — and believes they have found it — is acting in faith. As such, he or she has complete confidence in seeking your opinion on the issue about which they are concerned. They are comfortable in the face of disagreement. They will certainly give you reasons for what they believe, but do not need your confirmation, because they already have the confirmation of the Holy Spirit through his word. They have all the peace they need with or without your approval and regardless of whether they are ultimately able to move ahead with their plans.

Because their mind is on God’s will above all else, they are perfectly prepared for you to shut them down, and willing to submit to both your assessment of their plans or beliefs, and that of others. Because they know they are doing God’s work, they understand that, having done their bit, it is now the Lord’s job to convince you of the truth. They are servants, and when they find their way blocked, they take the issue to their Master to resolve.

Because their initiative is taken in faith, they respect that, for you to remain faithful to your Master, your decision-making process must operate the same way as theirs. So they are unwilling to coerce or manipulate you to gain your support or approval because they understand that unless you are just as strong in your convictions as they are in theirs — unless you too are operating in faith — your agreement is worthless.

Obtaining your consent and approval is a bonus, not a necessity.

Agenda-Driven Manipulation

On the other hand, the man or woman who is agenda-driven is not like this at all. Far from acting in faith, they are pursuing primarily their own interests and trying to get you to support and agree with them in order to move forward. When you disagree with them, they become distressed and hot under the collar. They are agitated rather than at peace. Lacking legitimate biblical ammunition with which to win the battle, they scramble for whatever looks like it will help them make their case, no matter the side effects and what the consequent fallout of adopting that view may be.

Obtaining your endorsement and approval is critical to them because they have not found peace in the word of God with respect to what they advocate.

Underlying their agitated state is a lack of confidence in their position. An unwillingness to wait for the Lord to convince fellow believers of the truth one sees is virtually a guarantee that one’s position is less-than-perfectly defensible.

From Now On I Will Go to the Gentiles

Does scripture bear this out? No less than the apostle Paul found opposition to what he taught over and over again. What was his response? After making every effort to make himself understood, when he saw that his message was not heard, he moved on.

Walking away without quarreling or causing division over the things one believes is not an indication of a weakness in one’s position. Rather, it is evidence of strength of character and genuine conviction.
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone … patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.”
I wonder how many local churches that have splintered over various issues would still be together if all believers maintained this attitude.

Contend for the faith? Absolutely. Quarrel, not so much.

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