Why Is My Faith Not Working For Me?
by: Al and Lisa Robertson
Sometimes, Christianity is sold as a way to have a better life — you know, sort of like a self-improvement course. And to be sure, following Christ, we believe, will lead to a much better life. People who eagerly and joyfully follow Jesus are better husbands, wives, sons, daughters, employees, and citizens. However, and this is a biggie, becoming a Jesus man or woman has a much higher goal than just living a better life.
So if having a better marriage, being free from addictions, and managing our finances (a better life) aren’t our goal, then what is?
One thing we’ve found out by personal experience and from helping hurting people find their way to healing is that the answer to this question cannot be found inside our own heads. In other words, as broken and sinful people, we don’t have the wisdom or perspective to answer that question. And when we try to solve our problems by using our own failed strategies (over and over again), we wind up in the same place we wound up in the last time we tried them … and the time before that … and the time before that.
No, we find that in order to answer the question “what does God want from me?” or “how can my faith be real?” the best resource is found in scripture instead of inside our own minds. The Bible is sort of like an autobiography of God in written form. It not only tells us who God is but who we are in relation to God. It also tells us what God requires of us in order to enjoy an intimate relationship with him.
So what is the answer?
In Matthew 18, a group of religious leaders came to Jesus to see if they could trap him in his own words. One of them asked him, “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment?”
We don’t know what the group of pastors wanted Jesus to say, but his answer shut them up. The greatest commandment, according to Jesus, is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”
Notice that he did NOT say, “You should do better. You should work to have a better marriage or to get sober … these are the most important things!” He could have said things like that, and he would have been right that having a better marriage or getting sober are noble pursuits. But they are not the most important things, according to Jesus.
If you had a shoe box full of 3×5 cards that had written on each one of them good things we should be concerned with but you were told that one of them was more important than all the others, how hard would you search for that one card? What if you were told that all of the other cards were worthless without that one card?
Thankfully, because Jesus did the sorting out for us, we don’t have to guess what’s written on that one card. We now know. The ultimate prize isn’t sobriety or a repaired marriage. No, the ultimate prize is Jesus. But in order to have intimacy with him (which fixes all the things broken in our lives), then we must pursue him as if nothing else matters. That’s the only stipulation. Not perfection! Not rule keeping! Not using our own strategies to fix our messed up lives. Just loving God with everything in us.
Trying to fix one broken thing at a time is like trying to stop finger sized leaks in a dam. As soon as we get one stopped up, we realize that there’s another leak somewhere else. And for most of us, there are more leaks than fingers. We soon realize that it’s an impossible task. We give up.
So if you ask us why your faith isn’t working for you, maybe you’ve been trying to use faith to “get your life together” instead of pursuing intimacy with your Lord who died for you and was raised for you. Maybe you’ve been viewing God as a cosmic bellhop — someone in the sky whose job it is to get your luggage for you or bring you room service. But the room service isn’t the point of faith — loving God Almighty is the point of faith. Room service is just one of the benefits. Faith that sees God as worthy of our total love is faith that works for us one hundred percent of the time.
When we make loving God our only priority, it allows us to breathe a little. We are able to say to ourselves, “Okay, now that I’ve opened my heart to the God who loves me and now that my relationship with him is secure, I can be patient as he transforms me into the image of his son in ALL areas of my life.” It allows us to be secure in our relationship with him as we also realize that being transformed is a lifelong endeavor. God will never stop sanctifying us until the day we die. But our relationship with him is intact (even in our imperfections), and there is nothing Satan can do to stop it. Not even by pointing out our failures to us.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind! This is the faith that works for us!