Walk this Way
2 Corinthians 5:7 We walk by faith, not by sight.
After we read this passage last night, I asked my family if there was a difference between belief and faith. My son, who is training for his driver’s license, said that I could believe he was a good driver but I could not practice faith in him until I sat in the passenger seat, relinquishing the wheel to him. That is what I get for asking him.
He has a better grasp of faith than I had at his age. I thought that faith meant desiring a thing, praying for it and then trying really hard to believe God will do it. In doing so, I reduced faith to positive thinking, twisting God’s arm to do my will. Faith was not about following God but about using him to enhance my ability to follow me.
I made the mistake of thinking that faith was simply accepting a reality. I was taught, growing up, that I was saved by faith alone, which I still believe. I misunderstood faith to be an intellectual knowledge of a thing. I believed in God, I just did not follow him. I am not saying I did not know God, but I certainly was not practicing faith while in that state.
We tend to think of faith as a single choice that we made once. We may even know the date of the event. As we accepted Jesus’ forgiveness of sins, we are now walking in faith, right? For many of us though, that date is merely when we accepted a reality. This is necessary for faith, but is short of faith itself. Faith is also what comes after.
Faith is believing a thing and then acting on it. Faith is believing in my son’s ability and sitting in the passenger seat. I can believe from outside the car but I cannot practice faith from outside the car. Likewise, belief in God is necessary for faith, but head knowledge alone is not faith. I must believe in God and then make my feet follow him.
If I say I believe in God but my daily life is consumed by the pursuit of me, I am not walking by faith. I am walking by sight, a term Paul used for the pursuit of the flesh and the world. This is where I went wrong. I was a Christian. I believed. I just did not allow that belief to truly impact my behavior. I spent years following me, living by sight. I walked a thousand steps in one direction and then had the audacity to wonder how I got there. But God, I’m a Christian! I don’t belong in treatment. How could you allow this to happen to me?
No one sets out to go to wreck their life and go to treatment. How did I get there? I got there by taking small individual steps in the wrong direction. Paul insisted that I daily choose my steps, walking towards God. That is faith, to keep eyes on God and walk accordingly. By default, though, I naturally walk towards self. I must accept that walking by faith and walking by sight are two opposite pursuits that will take me in completely different directions.
Not everyone will end up in treatment, but in following self, by definition, I am walking away from God. As Christ said, if I want to be his disciple, I must daily deny self and relinquish the wheel to him. That is faith.