The other day my wife and I were sharing with a colleague some of our frustrations. We had just moved to a new community and were trying to find a home, frustrated that we weren’t finding one to meet our family’s needs and at the same time be useful in ministry to others. My colleague offered the following encouragement: “If you believe that you need a new home then just walk around like it’s yours.”
He was talking about faith, which caused me to think:
What is the relationship between faith and us and God and the thing we want to happen? What does it mean to have faith that something will happen? Do we only need more faith?
Part of the answer came from a Bible reading the same day of that conversation. The passage was Mark, chapter 5.
Mark told the story of a woman who touched Jesus’ clothes and was healed of her sickness. But what’s really cool is what Jesus said to her:
And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.” (5:34)
On the surface, Jesus’ answer seems to imply that as long as one has faith, that is, believes something will happen, that it will be so.
But I don’t think that’s what Mark intended us to take away from this story. Why? First of all there was no mention of the amount of faith the woman had. Jesus simply stated that she had faith. Second, look at how Mark described the woman in verses 25-28. He first describes her suffering, the fact that this sickness of bleeding had lasted for twelve years, that no doctor was able to heal her, and that she had spent all she had, only to get worse, not better. But something changed for her.
She had heard the reports about Jesus. (5:27)
Let me paraphrase: she heard the Good News. Once she heard about Jesus she had real faith for the first time. In fact, she had such faith that it caused her to risk breaking social and religious taboos in order to be healed. See, in her mind Jesus would never willingly touch her, an unclean woman. If she could only sneak up in the crowd and touch his garment she could be healed. She knew that healing would only come through one man. Jesus.
Jesus was the object of her faith. She didn’t just have faith in healing. If faith in being healed had been enough she wouldn’t have remained infirmed for twelve years. No. She heard the reports about Jesus. And she believed in him. Of course, she believed that he was able to heal her. Absolutely! Our faith is in a God who acts, and rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6).
But our faith is in him, not merely in his blessings or benefits.
What is the object of your faith? Is it healing? employment? a home? a spouse? children? safety? or anything else?
Let me encourage you to make the Object of your faith Jesus. In fact, go back to what Jesus said and did on your behalf. It’s right there in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Allow that Good News to bolster your faith in him. If anything other than Jesus is the object of your faith than you truly don’t have faith at all.