HOW’ S YOUR FAITH?
Growing up in a Pentecostal church in the 70′ s and 80′ s ‘faith’ was a subject much talked about. I listened and watched many great evangelists with healing ministries, witnessed some remarkable miracles and always wished I had the same sort of faith that they had. Most of the time I felt like I was last in queue when the Lord handed out faith!
When faith was talked about, often it was in the context of having faith for something. I recall reading a book about a famous Korean Pastor Yonngi Cho who prayed for a bicycle to enable him to visit remote villages to share the gospel. In his book he recounted how the Lord had taught him to be very specific in bringing his requests to the Lord in prayer. His response was not simply to ask for a bike, any bike, he wanted a red bike. Remarkably, as he followed this vein of petition, he even, ‘by faith’ pictured the bike leaning against the wall of the small room he lived in. Guess what? He got his bike, and a red one at that! Later he went on to lead one of the largest churches in world. As a young believer I wanted that type of faith. Stories like these were both inspiring, and to honest, disabling! I felt that I could never have faith like his and in some ways this resulted in me feeling that I lacked faith.
Visiting Israel in 2017 whilst on a three month Sabbatical was a transformational experience. My understanding of faith was one of the many things that underwent a transformation. Our guide, an articulate and very well educated man shed enormous light on the many other ways the bible talks about faith. The Hebrew language is extremely rich. One of the differences between English and ancient Hebrew is that often the Hebrew language has many words for the one word we have in English. This is the case for the word ‘faith’ . We have one word and yet the Hebrew language has many more. Here’ s just one example
The Hebrew word Aman. It literally means trusting in the character of God! Many of you will know the story of Abraham and Sarah and their struggle with Sarah’ s inability to conceive. Despite Sarah not being able to bear a child, one night God takes Abraham outside of his tent, points to the stars in the sky, and makes a promise to him. He promises his descendants will be just like the multitude of stars in the sky. How can this be? Sarah can’ t conceive. Our guide, a Hebrew scholar say’ s it is implicit in the text that not only is Sarah unable to have a child the couple have ceased to have an intimate marital relationship. Yet, remarkably, Genesis 15:6 tells us of Abraham’ s response to the Lord, “And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” How does Abraham have faith that enables him to believe what God has said will happen? The word used here is the word Aman. Abraham’ s faith is not so much in believing what God said but in who God is. It’ s not simply trusting his word but putting his trust in the one who said it. He’ s trusting the character of God.
This starts to make faith accessible for so many more of us. I may not have faith FOR (whatever) but I do have faith IN who God is. I can put my trust in the character of God.
Adrian Lowe spearhead the Love Dudley Network to establish greater unity across the borough.