I am often confronted with this argument:
- If god wanted to "prove" the faith he could certainly do that without effort.
However, He has proved it! Paul argues that the evidence is so compelling that we are “without excuse” if we deny it (Rom. 1:20). However, we have erected selective filters against the light of this evidence (John 3:19-21), refusing to see the evidence. It is almost like trying to talk to a bulimic. It doesn’t matter how many times that we tell her that she is thin, she is convinced that she is fat.
Humanity is also bulimic. We are surrounded by the evidence of God but refuse to see it. As a seven-year-old, I was exposed to the Lord’s prayer in public school. Consequently, when I got into bed at night, I would clasp my hands together and pray in Jesus’ name. Astonishingly, many incredible things happened for this seven-year-old. However, once I turned eight, I learned that I was Jewish and that Jews didn’t do that kind of thing. Therefore, I quit praying entirely. I had placed my ethnicity above what I knew about God, reaping disastrous consequences!
Admittedly, even we Christians can become insensitive to the evidences around us. As a result, we too cry out to God, “Why don’t You strengthen my faith? Reveal yourself to me in a miraculous manner!”
However, we are in good company. Surrounded by Jesus’ miracles, even His disciples asked Him to increase their faith (Luke 17:5). When John the Baptist was languishing in prison, racked with doubts about Jesus, He instructed John’s disciples to tell John about the many miracles they had seen Jesus perform (Mat. 11).
However, Jesus responded to His own disciples in a different manner, appropriate to those who had already seen many miracles:
- “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” (Luke 17:10)
This cryptic response suggested several things. Faith is granted more abundantly to those who will not abuse it. If we think that we are righteous enough to deserve greater levels of confidence in the faith, faith can be dangerous. It can enable higher levels of self-righteousness:
- Look at me! I trust God completely, and look at the blessings I am deriving as a result of this!
Instead, we need to first learn that way to faith-confidence is through the knowledge that we are “unworthy servants” who don’t deserve this valuable gift. Despite all of the evidence around us, such confidence must come from above, but will only come to those who will not abuse it.
We think that require more miracles as a foundation for our faith-confidence. However, according to Jesus, the next step in our growth requires humility – a firm understanding of our un-deservedness!
We think that we know what we need. However, Paul instructed us that we don’t even know what to pray for, and therefore, the Spirit must intervene for us according to God’s will (Rom. 8:26-27).
In general, humanity doesn’t know what they need. Convinced that they will be happy if they win the Lotto, they buy tickets. However, studies show that, more often than not, winning is actually loosing. Many lives become unraveled.
Yes, we need evidences, but we need far more. We also need the character that will enable us to profitably use the confidence that the evidences provide. Therefore, we must first undergo afflictions and even doubts (2 Cor. 4:7-11) to cause us to despair of ourselves and to trust in Him alone (2 Cor. 1:8-9). We need to first be emptied of our self-confidence before we can be filled with a God-confidence. And when we are emptied, we hungrily and dependently seek understanding from Scripture, as the Psalmist David confessed
- Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word… It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. (Psalm 119:67, 71)