By Joe McKeever
“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). And, “The just shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11).
Some fellow writing in to our local paper thought he was slamming Christians when he said, “Religious people do everything by faith; science deals with hard facts.”
Give them credit. When I wrote a response to that slanderous statement, the editors ran my letter.
The simple fact is everyone on the planet lives by faith.
LIFE is a faith thing. For everyone.
We wake up in the morning without a thought as to whether the air in the room will be breathable and the oxygen in the air will be sufficient for everyone on the planet. Without a conscious effort and no hesitation or doubt, we inhale and begin to stir and head to the bathroom where we turn on the faucet. We have never been to the water filtration plant and have no knowledge of all the steps unseen people there take to purify the water, making it safe for us to bathe in and even to drink. We use it by faith.
We open the pantry and refrigerator and take out foods for breakfast. The strawberries are from California, the blueberries from Chile, and the milk from a dairy in another state. The cereal was produced in Battle Creek, Michigan, and the coffee originated in South America. Will you be poisoned today? It has happened, you know. You were not alongside the inspectors of those berries or the FDA people overseeing those plants or the agricultural people checking out the coffee beans at the port. However, you give this no thought and open the newspaper and eat your cereal. By faith.
You live by faith.
On the highways, you live by faith.
You will pass hundreds of automobiles today, many of them at high rates of speed and going in opposite directions from you only a few feet away. Anything could happen, and has happened. A driver could fall asleep, be distracted, be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or suddenly have a seizure of some kind. His car would then veer out of control and do great damage. And yet, you give this no thought as you merge into interstate traffic.
You drive by faith.
Even with excellent drivers, something could happen to one of the cars, and has happened. A tire could blow, an engine could shut down, or brakes could fail. Suddenly, bedlam erupts on the interstate and bad things happen. And yet, you scarcely give this possibility a thought. You are a person of incredible faith.
Faith in what? You have faith in thousands of drivers you have never seen and do not know, as well as faith in their vehicles and in the system that is supposed to keep them in good repair.
You have faith in the medical system.
You go to a doctor whom you have never met who diagnoses a problem you’ve never heard of. They give you a prescription you cannot read, which you take to a pharmacy where you never see the druggist. Later, you open the dispenser and take out a pill you do not recognize, and, following the directions on the label, you open wide and swallow.
You have incredible faith, my friend. Admirable faith.
When your doctor prescribes tests, you obediently submit to the battery of procedures in some unfamiliar building where strange machines probe your body and invade your orifices. Later, when the doctor produces odd-looking printouts and describes some foreign-sounding condition you’ve never heard of, you agree to go into the hospital for surgery. People you do not know and have never met will take you to the edge of death, do life-threatening things to the inside of your body, and (hopefully) bring you back again.
Tell me you don’t live by faith! What a joke.
Everyone who goes into a restaurant lives by faith.
Where did your food originate? Did the handlers in the kitchen observe safe practices? Do they wash their hands? Did anyone cough on your food or even–perish the thought–spit in it? Did another diner reject the plate you are now being served? Did that steak fall on the floor in the kitchen and they merely picked it up again and replaced it on the plate? You have no way of knowing.
When was the last time the health department inspected this restaurant? What grade did they receive? Have they done anything about their cockroach problem? Are the floors and countertops clean?
No one–well, not one person in a thousand–checks out these things. We live by faith.
Well, we could go on like this all day.
Schools: We do not check out each teacher of our children or monitor everything that goes on in the classroom or the playground. We take a major chance when we allow strangers to teach our children. It’s called faith.
Churches: Your kids are traveling with the youth minister to that distant event. Is he trustworthy? Will everyone be kept safe? Is the church van road-worthy? Is the driver attentive? Are the pastors and the teachers of your church people of integrity? You have faith that they are.
Police: We give incredible respect and liberty to law enforcers to come and go in our communities. What if they are not honest and not moral? They could do great damage, and this has been known to happen. And yet, we sleep securely at night in the faith that they are doing the job they were trained and assigned to do.
Modern transportation: Trains, ships, and airplanes have pilots and engineers, controllers and mechanics. Every trip we make, we put faith in a host of people whom we will never meet without the slightest idea whether the faith is well-grounded or not. And almost daily, we hear of accidents caused by an inattentive engineer, a distracted pilot, or a drunk captain.
Everyone lives by faith. Everyone on the planet. There are questions, however, that should be asked and issues that need clarifying….
1) We live by faith, but faith in whom?
2) Is our faith well-founded or are we giving blind confidence to someone or something?
3) Why do we do a thousand things by faith in people we do not know, then look suspiciously at Scriptures which call on us to place our faith (our confidence) in a holy and loving God?
4) Where did the idea originate that scientists deal only with cold hard facts? Pardon me while I laugh at the idea. No one on the planet lives with nothing but cold hard facts, least of all researchers who are forever carrying out experiments in search of something or other.
5) The question is not “Will I live by faith?” but “faith in whom?”
6) No one has earned our faith and trust like the Lord Jesus Christ. We can trust the One who died for us. And we can trust what He says after heaven and hell, the devil and the Heavenly Father, life and death because of His credentials.
It was to this issue Jesus was speaking when He said to Nicodemus, “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from Heaven, even the Son of Man” (John 3:13).
Recently, a skeptical man said to me, “You ask us to take everything by faith. Show me someone who has come back from the dead to tell us and I’ll believe.” I said, “Where have you been, friend? Jesus came back from the dead.”
He did not accept that, which was not surprising. He simply had made up his mind not to believe, therefore no amount of evidence was acceptable to him.
As our Lord said in His story of the rich man and Lazarus, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31). (Note: The term “Moses and the Prophets” refers to the Old Testament scriptures.)
7) The Lord does not require great faith from us. He said, “If you had faith as a mustard seed, you could do miracles” (see Luke 17:6).
Those who trot out that lame excuse that “I don’t do anything by faith” should open their eyes and use their brains. They do a thousand things a day by faith. So this excuse holds no water.
People disbelieve in Jesus Christ because they have made up their minds not to believe. And they do that because to admit that He is Lord would require wholesale lifestyle changes and that’s what they are unwilling to do.
Truth matters less to them than their own pleasures.
And that’s the cold hard facts of the matter.
Joe McKeever is retired missions director for the New Orleans Baptist Association. Before that Mr. McKeever pastored churches in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and North Carolina.