We constantly stumble over the word—faith. How do we know we have it? What does it mean to lose it? What is the one thing about faith we often forget?
But really, faith is weirder than we think. And there is one thing we often misunderstand about faith.
We are almost done with our Faith Hacking series. Previously we covered…
- Making room for the God who comes.
- Understanding that the gospel who is a person.
- Discovering that salvation is entrance into a new family.
Now it’s time to tackle the idea of faith.
So, what is the one thing we forget about faith?
What Faith is Not
In my teaching and preaching I often define a word by what it isn’t.
Faith is not…
- An Idea: not just something we think about.
- An Emotion not just something we feel.
Faith is not an intellectual or emotional state. It is not what we think about God. It is not believing God exists. It is not what we feel about God, that we sense God loves us in our hearts—or that we don’t.
Ideas and emotions aren’t bad. I affirm God’s existence. And I think it would be a good idea for you to affirm it also. I affirm the love of God. And I would love for you to feel the comfort and acceptance of God too.
But when we say faith, that is not what the Bible generally means.
Faith is much more robust than merely an idea or an emotion.
Faith Is Allegiance?
Faith—in the ancient world, which includes the Bible—meant something much closer to allegiance or loyalty.
But loyalty and allegiance are weird words—they have a bad wrap these day.
Allegiance is something we probably don’t think much about. Except something like “I pledge allegiance to…”
And loyalty—especially when it is demanded—seems manipulative and controlling.
Isn’t it just military dictators or tyrants who demand loyalty? Don’t cult leaders who demand total allegiance? Isn’t it just Darth Vader and the evil Emperor who demand unthinking loyalty and allegiance?
About Faith in the Bible
But faith as loyalty or allegiance is very common in the Bible.
In the Old Testament God repeatedly tells Israel not to look to Egypt or Babylon for help against their enemies. God is supposed to be Israel’s help in times of trouble.
Israel is supposed to have faith in God. Their allegiance is with God, not Egypt. Their loyalty is with God, not Babylon.
And what does that mean practically?
It means Israel’s help comes from the LORD, not Babylon. Their deliverance comes from God, not the horses and chariots of the Egyptian war machine.
Faith answers these basic questions:
- Who do you look to for help, assistance, or deliverance? That is the one you have faith in.
- Who do you call on in times of trouble? That is where your allegiance and loyalty today.
- Who do you call on for reinforcements? That is where your loyalty is.
Life Is War Zone
You see, our lives are not so much a calm place where God wonders about our thoughts and feeling about whether God exists.
ACTUALLY, life is a war zone full of hazards and dangers, full of spiritual forces out to destroy us, AND WE ARE DYING OUT HERE.
And God promises to rescue us. And God IS rescuing us, leading us to safety, to salvation. And the way out of this war zone is to stay close to Jesus, to stay on narrow path that leads to life.
And the question is, Will you give your trust, your allegiance, your loyalty to God, to the one getting us through this?
Or will you, when trials and suffering and sorrows come, will you abandon him for something else. Will you put your trust and loyalty somewhere else?
Faith Hack: Allegiance to God
In this war zone of life, the genuineness of your faith going to be tested. Will you stay loyal to Jesus or not?
Jesus has the power to save us. Jesus is willing to protect us. Jesus is leading us to life in a new family. Will be given him our allegiance?
Will we trust him?
Will we cling to him?
Will we call to God for help?
Will we place our faith in God?
How would your relationship to God change knowing that faith is not a feeling or an idea?
How would your faith as loyalty and allegiance change how you perceive the ups and downs of life? What is God calling you to right now?
This article about faith originally appeared here.