Dead or Alive?: Cultivating Active Faith

Kim Sullivan

May 19, 2016

Faith is a verb, not a feeling! So often, the English language equates faith with the word “believe”. The problem with this definition is that believing is not nearly as concrete as faith. Belief often remains on the sidelines as a spectator, while faith requires action. Being faithful means adhering to the truth, having fidelity to what is most important in reality. Although one must believe in order to have faith, faith is not required to believe. 

For instance, people may claim to not only believe in God but also to be Christ-followers. However, the percentage of those who are moved by their belief toward corresponding actions would be much smaller. The proof of what we truly believe is found in what we say and do. So what can we do to give our faith walk a check up?

Faith says

When centurion speaks to Jesus, he acknowledges his belief that Jesus can “speak only a word” and his daughter would be healed (Matthew 8:8). Later in Matthew Jesus says, 

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you" (Matthew 17:20). 

Scripture tells us that our speech comes from the overflow of our heart (Matt.12:34). In other words, our words measure our faith and trust in God. Faith begins with speaking. After all, this is how the world was created. "By faith, we see the world called into existence by God’s word, what we see created by what we don’t see" (Hebrews 11:3, The Message).

Faith sees and can be seen. 

By faith we see that God used his words to create what is seen from that which is unseen. Are you constantly fixing your gaze on your problems or on the Solution to those problems? Faith sees the eternal, it does not fix its eyes on what is only temporary! If you only look at the mountain, the mountain will remain. However, if you keep your eyes on the Mountain Mover, nothing is impossible! We are commanded to “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7). We must choose to see the eternal over temporary circumstances and look to the “Author and Finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

Faith is accompanied by action 

Several times in the gospels Jesus “sees” the faith of others. Men cry out in a crowd, “Son of Man, have mercy!” Women who are supposed to be in quarantine keep saying, “If I but touch the hem of His garment, I’ll be made whole.” James instructs us that faith without deeds is useless (James 2:20). Faith without works may be faith, but it is dead faith. Even though we are not saved by our works, our alive and active faith pleases God and must be something that we strive toward "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him" (Hebrews 11:6).

Faith grows from our thoughts 

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Perhaps this is why faith speaks. Modern day coaches and motivational speakers often encourage their followers to recite positive affirmations out loud so that the speaker can hear these words of encouragement in their own voice. Changing our inner voice eventually changes what we believe. We can evolve from a doubter to a person of great faith by taking care to watch over our thoughts and our words. This is why  Paul commands us, 

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”(Romans 12:2). 

Spending time meditating on God’s Word changes our thinking from negative mistrust into trust and faith that God will work all things together for our good (Ro. 8:28).

Faith grows through challenges 

Hebrews chapter 11 lists the men and women in a great Hall of Faith. Their faith spoke God’s will in the face of destruction, acted on His commands when it seemed that everything was against them, and inherited the promise, some in this world and some after they were gone from this world. One thing is for certain, our faith requires patience. Because faith deals with things not seen, it can be easy to grow weary in the meantime. However, the apostle James encourages us, “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow” (James 1:3). 

About the author — Kim Sullivan

Kim Sullivan is a writer with a background in everything from homeschooling to nonprofit management. She has raised three children each of whom are successful in their own unique way. Recently, Kim has done the most radical and risky thing she has ever done…she moved 700 miles from her suburban Chicago home and everything familiar to her and relocated to Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is working on a brand-new website and blogs at Journey to Epiphany. She is also writing a book about her adventures in following Jesus.

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