LIVING THE VISION
I believe; help my unbelief.
These words from the father of the sick boy found in Mark 9 sum up the spiritual life for many of us.
We have faith. We believe. We have confidence in God’s power and timing. And so, we trust in God.
Yet, we have this inward sensation that appears much like the wringing of hands. We are confident, but restless. Our faith feels more like optimism. In the back of our minds we have our fingers crossed. Our belief feels more like wishing, hoping and praying.
This is familiar territory in our personal spiritual journey and in the journey we share with others through our Church.
We believe all the right things about God and the Church: We accept that God created the church to be Christ’s body in the world. We get the picture that we are ambassadors of Christ, God making his appeal through us. We embrace the gifts of the Spirit that equip us for spiritually impacting the world. We believe the Holy Spirit empowers us and is always with us.
We understand the human condition and see brokenness all around us. From our own experience, we know that the world would be much better off if more people could experience even the most infinitesimal portion God’s love and pursue a life in Christ.
We believe that where God leads, God also provides. We are not on a wild-goose chase. We are not do-gooders for the sake of doing good. We are on a holy mission of eternal significance.
Yet, the gap between our accepting God’s call and launching out into unfamiliar territory is almost paralyzing. Questions surface. Doubt bubbles up. We believe; help our unbelief!
I am reminded of the last three realities of experiencing God articulated by Blackaby and King. God’s invitation to join in holy work always leads to a crisis of belief. Any church leader knows what it is like to have the head and the heart struggle over unfamiliar territory. The only way forward is through faith expressed in action.
Can’t you think of some project God called your church to do that expressed itself in this battle in the collective heart and head of the congregation? Then with a spiritual confidence that far exceeded what you could see, you collectively took a giant step (leap) of faith. You didn’t see a way—but you believed God would make a way forward. Admittedly, it was just a thimble full of faith, but that was enough.
To walk forward in faith each of you made major adjustments in your personal and shared life to join in God’s holy mission. Your core values, beliefs and behavior took on new or expanded dimensions. To say you were outside your comfort zone is an understatement. You probably hadn’t ever dreamed of risking and trusting this much. But, there you were outside the comfort zone.
The realm of God was impacted through your leap of faith. The world was made more Christlike as God’s love was reflected in new ways. Neighbors experienced genuine Christian love through action. In so doing, they received an appetizer portion of what it is like to live in God’s realm.
That the world was impacted is good, but so much more happened. A familiar pattern that has repeated itself from earliest human contact with God unfolded. Those who took the leap learned that faith and obedient action lead to an ever-expanding experience of God. The preached, taught and read Word became more than a promise, it became a first-hand, verified personal experience.
We learned that God is indeed faithful, reliable, and able. The experience itself expanded our faith and made it easier to take another step forward.
To what risk-taking mission is God calling you and your congregation? Where is God at work around you? Where are your head and heart struggling? Over what ministry opportunity do you have one foot in mid-air while the other is firmly planted in safety?
Why not use all this as a sign from God inviting you to struggle through the crisis of belief, to make adjustments, to summon that thimble-full of faith, and to leap out there to reflect the love of Christ? Struggle through the unbelief and act out of faith. God will use this experience to impact the world and impact you in awe-inspiring ways.
Dr. Brad Brady is the Assistant to the Bishop for Connectional Ministries.