“Many rulers believed in Jesus. However, they wouldn’t admit it publicly because the Pharisees would have thrown them out of the synagogue. They were more concerned about what people thought of them than about what God thought of them.” John 12:42,43
We have been raised in a basically Hellenistic world view. The way we think and our language is very highly influenced by Greek thought. Like the idea of faith. In Greek thinking, “faith is a matter of assent to the truth of a claim and a decision to act upon that claim. So we are told that having faith in God is to agree that God exists and to decide to live according to that belief.” (Skip Moen) But that is very different from the Hebrew idea of faith. There is this idea of faith which is foundational that is never translated as this “pisteuo”, “believe.” It’s this word “batah” and it has no other similar words in any other language. “Batah” is unique to Hebrew thought. It means “to rely upon, to place confidence in, to experience well-being and security.” (ibid) Trusting then is not about what I think or believe, as in “pisteuo”; ” trusting God is not a matter of intellectual or volitional faith but rather a matter of feeling secure. ” (ibid)
But here we read of these religious rulers who “believed in” You, but weren’t sold out in You. Your words were true and they assented to them, but they had no security in You, because their security was still in the acceptance of man instead of Your acceptance. So my question is, do You, Lord, consider that “faith”? Or is that just what some of us are pleased to call faith?
Sometimes I wonder about the validity of proving that God exists. We use the argument over creation and those who believe in a “Big Bang Theory” or “Evolution”, “Were you there? How can you prove it?” And the point is, I wasn’t there either. I can’t prove it. I can’t prove God. You just are. If we allow You to open our eyes, You are just Self Evident. I mean, look around. Everything around us is finite. How can I take what is finite to prove that which is eternal?
Trust in God isn’t about proving. It’s about “living without concerns.” Wow, that’s a radical thought! How in the world can I live without concerns? I mean, here I am with tight muscles from stress and wondering if I still grind my teeth. In a world so full of stress, how do I live without concerns? “It is the sense of confidence that comes from God’s total reliability. It is participating in the community that depends on God’s past history. ‘To believe is to remember,’ said Heschel. Now we see just how correct he was. Faith is the feeling I have when I experience the reality of God’s care. It does not exist independently of my experience. It is not something out there, waiting for me to affirm. It is the present-moment reliability of God’s hand in my life.” And God’s hand in my life is not just there in the seemingly perfect situations. God’s hand in my life is there when I’m being ready to be thrown into the fiery furnace or burned at the stake.
Faith is participating in Your mercy, God. “I participate in what God is doing, and when I recognize that is true, I immediately am aware of His care for me. It is His doing, not mine. My faith is the confident expectation that God is God, that what He does is good and that He cares for me.” (ibid) The situation and the feelings going on inside me don’t matter. You, Lord, are faithful. You, God, are caring for me in the midst of everything. You, Lord, are my hope and my safety and my security and my strength and my refuge and my…Do my feelings and emotions fluctuate? Yes! I’m human. Read the Psalms. But my confident expectation is in God. And I know one thing, that “through it all God does not change. When I examine myself, I discover that either I find a foundational assurance that God is good or I find an oscillating ocean of desire and disappointment. When I examine myself, I am either fixed on God or subject to the whims of the world.” (ibid) So, what do I find when I examine myself?
Am I living in continued expectation? Am I living, depending that my Deliverer is drawing nigh? Is my hope in You and nothing else?
No relationship can last without trust. The only thing is that there is only One who is trustworthy. The Bible tells us all kinds of things that we trust in, like riches, men, horses, property, weapons, places, and even myself. But the trust You are leading us to is a confidence in my final outcome, not just my ordinary life security. Sure, I look to You for my well being, provision, and protection. But it’s more than that. I mean, I can’t lead an absolutely sheltered life, free of hardship and pain. Those things will come. But I know that Your protection, provision, and care for my well being will come in the midst of those hardships and take me through them. You are my firm foundation that gives me hope always.
You are “utterly reliable, completely faithful and totally trustworthy… my only real hope. When I say that I trust in God, I do not mean that I expect Him to protect and provide and shelter and bless me in ways that let me escape life’s trauma and turmoil… When I say that I trust God, I mean that I place my final hope in Him, that I look forward to a time when justice will prevail, when righteousness will be fulfilled and when His will is accomplished on earth as it is in heaven. The solid Rock of the Lord is a perspective that looks beyond this world. If it is manifested here and now, oh how wonderful and gracious is His act toward me. But if not, my trust is not destroyed. God is Who He says He is. That is my hope. That is why I put all my confidence in Him.” (ibid)
This is what it is to believe in You. This is when You and I take my believing and make it faith and trust in You. This is what it thinks like. This is what it acts like. This is what it looks like. But most of all, this is Who it stands in. “O, My God, in You I trust.” (Psalm 25:2) This is how I come to the point of caring more about holding onto You than staying within my “synagogue.” This is how I come to care more about sharing Your truth with others than the ridicule or mistreatment I may receive because of it. When my trust is in You, I am no longer ashamed of You.
Trusting and believing must be combined. Paul emphasizes that in Romans 10:8-11 which is actually a reiteration, a reminder, from Deuteronomy 30:14. “‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your’ heart’ (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in HIm will not be put to shame.'”
So, here we have religious people afraid to confess you publicly, afraid of what their religious friends would think. So they didn’t really fully act on what they believed. In protecting their reputations, they forfeited their confidence in God, they forfeited their trust. And isn’t that what You warn us in Luke 9:24-26? “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. (Isn’t that like saying, “Whoever holds on to their own life and reputation will lose it. Whoever loses their life in Me will save it?) For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” What do I want, Lord? What is most important to me? Do I want the world to approve me and take care of me? Or do I cherish Your approval and Your care?
Lord, my confidence is in You. It doesn’t matter how big a “screw up” I am. You are my Confidence. You are the One fixing and transforming me. You are the One protecting and guiding me. You are the One holding me together when I can’t hold myself together any more. Even my closest friend can’t do that. In You I will trust and I will trust everything in You. And I am not ashamed to trust in You. Through the thick and through the thin, You alone are my Rock. There is none other like You.