RELIGION COLUMN: Directing our faith outward
By Jake McCall
Faith can be a very personal and powerful thing in someone’s life. Applying one’s faith inwardly can get a person through very dark times, and it is the way in which we have a personal relationship with God; therefore, exercising our faith in an inward way is both necessary and fruitful. While keeping that in mind, a very important shift to make is to understand that God intends to primarily use our faith in Christ to direct towards others. And this could mean a number of things and come into play in a number of different circumstances. God may intend to use your faith in the life of unbelievers, new believers or long-time Christians that desperately need the faith of another.
There is a story in the Book of Acts that points to this very thing: God helping someone through the faith of someone else. In Acts 3, the apostles Peter and John were going to the temple to pray and they came across a paralyzed beggar who was lying at the gate of the temple asking for alms as people were entering in. Because this poor, paralyzed man was not inside the temple, we can assume that he was not part of the believing community. In Acts 3:6, Peter responds to this beggar by saying, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And as the Bible tells us, this man began to stand, walk and even began leaping and praising God.
This account obviously shows us the amazing healing power of Christ, and it also reveals the power of directing one’s faith outwardly. Peter and John could have directed their faith inwardly by realizing that they had no silver or other financial means and prayed in the name of Jesus for wealth. And yet, God chose to use their faith for another. As a matter of fact, the Bible gives example after example of the Lord using the faith of one of his children to impact someone else.
In Luke 7, the centurion pleaded for the healing of his servant, and when Jesus saw the centurion’s faith, his servant was healed. Matthew 8 tells us that others brought the sick and demon-possessed to Jesus. Remember in Luke 5 when the friends of a paralyzed man took him up on a roof and lowered the man down to Jesus? It says that Jesus saw their faith and said, “Man, your sins are forgiven … Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” Matthew 15 says the Caananite woman’s daughter was healed because of her mother’s faith. Mark 5 has a most interesting account of the other end of this principle when a ruler named Jairus comes to Jesus to tell him that his daughter has died, but he believes that if Jesus puts his hand on her she will live. Jesus walks in the room where this man’s daughter is and people begin to laugh. As if he tells them that their lack of faith and mockery are a hindrance to the work of God, he tells them to get out! The laughing doubters leave, Jesus tells her to rise and she does.
We all have many things in our own lives that our faith could be applied to, but the Bible puts forth a strong argument that our faith is first and foremost for the benefit of others. In fact, the Bible proposes that the essence of the body of Christ is revealed as we receive the gift of faith from God, then cast it outward so that others may experience the love of Christ as we deny ourselves, pray for others and seek Christ for the sake of others.
—Jake McCall is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. He is the pastor at Grace Fellowship Presbyterian Church. His column appears each Thursday.