Faith. What is faith? How do we define faith? We often think faith as something that is confined exclusively to our head and our heart. In the Bible, we are told to have faith in God and love for Him and others. However, I think faith is not limited to our head and heart. It is more than that. Faith doesn’t just effect our thoughts and emotions; it produces action. It encourages and motivates us.
There are two stories in the Bible that exemplify my understanding of faith. First, the story of Jericho’s chief tax collector, Zacchaeus. He was so intent on seeing Jesus that he climbed a tree just to catch a glimpse of Him as he passed through town. We don’t know what Zacchaeus was thinking, other than “How can I get a clear view of this man?” That is something astonishing to think about. With all the people that encountered Jesus, we know very little about what they were thinking. For Zacchaeus, it may have been that he heard of Jesus and all the things He was doing. By this time, Jesus was an important figure and many people wanted to see Him. Maybe calling out to Jesus was spontaneous. All we know is the result of this encounter: Zacchaeus was changed. After a simple invitation from Jesus, Zacchaeus offered to return money to anyone he had defrauded and to give half his possessions to the poor.
The second story of faith comes from the girl possessed by a demon. When the mother of this girl came to Jesus, she broke every rule of society. Jews like Jesus did not associate with non-Jews like this woman. For a non-Jewish woman to approach a Jewish man was as taboo as interracial marriage before the Civil Rights Movement. Clearly, this woman was desperate to petition Jesus for her daughter’s healing. Even after Jesus said “no,” the woman was not disheartened and her faith was not hindered. She pressed on and Jesus healed her daughter. This woman received the change she desired for her daughter because her faith was tireless, even in the face of discouraging circumstances.
Persistence in faith and the resulting change is what God wants for and from us. Faith leads to perseverance which in the end changes our lives, as witnessed by that girls mother. Furthermore, Zacchaeus shows us that faith can change our habits. He was wealthy, crooked and greedy. However, his faith in Jesus changed the way he lived his life.
Both of these stories present their own unique questions. Zacchaeus asks us:
- How is your faith being demonstrated in your life?
- How has your faith in Jesus shaped your relationships, your approach to your job and your attitude toward your hobbies?
- How can you show someone else the love of Jesus today?
- What recent actions have you taken in faith?
The demon possessed girl asks us:
- When was the last time you were so desperate to see Jesus move that you stopped caring what other people think? What stops you from having that kind of bold faith all the time?
- How do you respond when God doesn’t answer prayers right away?
- What can you learn from the mother of the demon-possessed girl?
- Is there anything that you hesitate to talk to God about? What’s holding you back?
Faith changes us.