Great Faith, Part 10 (SERIES END)
We have arrived at our final destination on the journey to Great Faith. There is one last soil conditioner that we need to add to the mix in order for us to be fully equipped to live out the kind of faith we read about in Hebrews 11. This last soil (or heart) conditioner is both a decision and a life-long commitment of putting into practice the truth of God’s Word. Without #5, faith can be left at the starting line of life philosophizing and theorizing about the necessity and potential of faith but never actually engaging the activity of faith. As the Apostle Paul said, “We run this race to win” (1 Cor. 9:24). Faith, to be considered Great Faith, must be an activity that consumes and conforms our lives into the image of Jesus.
Here is the last portion of Hebrews 11 that we have been using to extract the keys for Great Faith: “...If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” [Heb 11:15-16 NLT emphasis added]. The two underlined words in this passage work together to form a connection from the inside world of “I want to” and the outside world of “I will to.” The word longing indicates that there has been time taken to sort through whims and wishes and that a determined “want to” has been put forward as the destination that must now be pursued by a committed “I will to” get there. So, I will call the last two-word, starting with the letter S heart conditioner, SEEK IT.
There are two verses of scripture (among many others) that jump to the front of the line when we hear the word, seek. Jesus was very fond of this word and other related words like, “follow” me, when He described the life of a disciple. The first verse, “Seek first the Kingdom…” (Matt 6:33) indicates that the first and foremost seeking activity of every disciple of Jesus is to head towards the Kingdom of God. Seeking indicates that there is a high degree of intention and intensity. The destination (the Kingdom) dictates the decisions made all along the journey. Every choice is filtered through the grid of “Kingdom first” as proof that we are convinced that we are heading in the right direction. The second verse is similar to this, “Seek and you will find…” (Matt 7:7). The emphasis here is on the continuous action of seeking. This is a passionate quest to find something that you know is at the end of the journey. It is the destination of your destiny. The “you will find” part is the promise that, if we don’t quit, we will find what we are looking for.
What does it really look like to seek the Kingdom? In a wide angle view we can see this as living a faithful life, honoring God and the people in our lives and finally arriving in Heaven when our time on this planet is over. Heaven is our ultimate destination, but is that really our destiny? Destiny can be seen in the way we live our lives. As true believers, we will get into Heaven but will we have fulfilled our purpose before we get there? The Kingdom is not only somewhere “out there,” it is also someone and something right here. Seeking is the process of SETTLE IT, SEE IT, SAY IT, SATURATE IT put into action in every moment of every day. SEEK IT is focused on fulfilling the prayer of Jesus, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven” by becoming the will of God on Earth as it is in Heaven. Remember, Great Faith in its simplest form is a manifestation of my flesh being transformed into the living expression of God’s Word. This seems like a tall order and an impossible goal, but God, in His infinite wisdom, has embedded process and practice to make us perfect for the role He has written for us. So let’s get back to the movie-making motif and set the scene for SEEK IT to enter, stage right…
The previous post ended with this scripture: “Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” [Rom 12:2 NLT emphasis added]. Up to this point in developing Great Faith we have focused on what we see, say, and saturate ourselves with. In this next step we are focusing on the way we do these things, which indicates that there is a right way and a wrong way to activate your belief system.
Use your imagination again to picture a movie set that has been properly staged to film a scene that will be used in the production. The props are in place, the actors have memorized their lines, the support systems are ready to go, and the director shouts, “action!” The unseen preparation now moves into a reality that can be observed by those watching. The director is keenly aware of the lines and also has a definitive picture in mind of what the scene should look like if acted properly. The action continues until the director says, “cut.” The director now steps in, gives input for adjustments, and then the action resumes. This process happens all through the filming of this scene and can last an entire day, or more- until the director is perfectly satisfied that the actors got it right. What is written in the script has just come to life in a totally authentic and believable way. This is Kingdom reality TV at its best.
This is exactly what SEEK IT is all about. It is about the process and practice of getting the scene right. It is as much about how you are getting there as it is in the actual arrival. Our lives, lived out, need to bring our script to life in the way that the director (Holy Spirit) has determined is the way that the Father has willed (written) it. The director does not expect the actors to get it just right the first time they play the scene. This is why rehearsals are built into the movie making process. SEEK IT is a daily rehearsal of faith being exercised and a daily review time with the director to work out the kinks.
Changing the way that we think is the main objective of this rehearsal process. Many times the director will converse with the actors and give them some deeper background on the character they must become. Unseen, but vital components, like attitude, motivation, past history that shaped the character, all play a part in how the character will act out the words on the page. The actor must be willing to give up their own thought process and engage and immerse themselves in the mindset of the character in the story. In our role as a Great Faith actor, we must be willing to let go of any preconceived ideas and notions of how things are supposed to be and engage and immerse ourselves in the mind of Christ. If we are to be as Jesus is, we need to think like Jesus, so we can represent Jesus to the world around us. This is entirely the point and entirely possible because God has written into the production all the resources we will need by actually giving us the mind of Jesus! (1 Cor 2:16). The only thing necessary is for us to surrender our way of thinking for His way.
The perfection in this process comes in the practice. When the director shouts, “cut!,” it is not a cut on our worth and value as actors. It is an opportunity to refine and reshape the action until it conforms to how Jesus would do the scene if He were playing the part. The actor’s response to this correction and redirection is the determining factor in a successful scene. The question the director needs answered from the actor is, will you keep working at the scene until you get it right or will you get offended and walk off the set? SEEK IT is a life-long commitment to keep practicing even if you never get it right in your lifetime. Remember the opening lines of Hebrews 11:13… “and all these died in faith without ever fully receiving what was promised.” They kept walking, believing, holding onto, pressing forward, no matter what the cost. This is what seeking is all about.
The Apostle Paul was one Great Faith actor who exemplified this Kingdom work ethic. Naturally speaking, Paul was physically quite unimpressive (various references in his writings allude to his disqualification credentials). But he did not consider his weaknesses a detriment. He considered it an opportunity to see the power of God displayed in and through his weaknesses. Paul has been described as a seeker, a finder, and a seeker still. He did not stop his seeking in the face of tremendous adversity. In his own words, here is how he describes his SEEK IT:
I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. [Phl 3:12-14 NLT]
Surely, this is “practice makes perfect” personified.
There are volumes that could be written on each of these 5 conditioners that have been presented in this series. I hope I have just wet your spiritual appetite to dig in for more. Great Faith is possible for every believer, and I dare say, is expected of every believer. Whenever lackluster faith was demonstrated by the disciples of Jesus, Jesus would ask the simple questions: Where is your faith? Why did you doubt? Why did you think twice? Jesus is still asking questions of His disciples and the one question that He is coming back to this earth to get answered is this: “...However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" [Luk 18:8 NIV]. So, what do you expect He will find?
He will find the answer in people of Great Faith!
by Pastor Jim Anan