3 Stages of Faith: Stage 1 — Faith in Faith

27 Nov

A while back I mentioned that I was reading the book, The Jesus of Suburbia by Mike Erre.  I set it down for awhile and picked it back up yesterday.  I love the premise of this book:  that God is HUGE, mysterious, and paradoxically knowable–although far from predictable.

As I’ve studied the subject of fear, I’ve come to believe that the antidote for fear is faith.  Mr. Erre proposes three stages of faith as illustrated in the book of Job.  The first stage is demonstrated in Job 1:1-5:

1 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. 2 He had seven sons and three daughters, 3 and he owned seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys, and had a large number of servants. He was the greatest man among all the people of the East.  4 His sons used to take turns holding feasts in their homes, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.

We see several important points in these verses:

1.  Job was blameless and upright, fearing God and shunning evil,

2.  Job was rich,

3.  Job offered sacrifices for his children just in case they had sinned.

“We see throughout the book that the predominant paradign for understanding God was this:  If you do good things, God will reward and protect you.  If you do bad things, you will suffer and be punished. . . . [Job’s] faith wasn’t in God yet; it was in his own ability to please God through his religious activity.  His faith rested in his religious his religious performance.  That was why he sacrificed to God on behalf of his children. . . .There is no joy or peace in this kind of faith because whether or not we receive God’s blessing ultimately rests on us.  We have to get everything just right.” — The God of Suburbia p. 125, 126

Bartering faith.  Erre calls it having faith in faith.  If I do this, God will do that. For this to function, we have to be always scanning our behavior.  Am I praying enough?  Reading my Bible enough?  Am I loving my neighbor as myself?  The whole thing comes down to a question of motive:  Am I praying because I want to communicate with my Lord or because I want blessings?  Am I reading my Bible because I have a vital need to hear from Jesus or because I want to be rewarded for my faithfulness?  Am I bringing my neighbor cookies because I want to be seen as loving or because the love of God is flowing through me?  Sometimes we don’t even know our own motives.  Faith in faith will not deliver us from fear, worry, or anxiety.  In the end it makes us more anxious because it’s all about us!

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