Faith: The Stumbling Block
While an atheist professor was teaching a college philosophy class, he told the students that he was going to prove to them that God does not exist. He looked up and mockingly proclaimed, "God if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform. I'll give you 15 minutes!"
After more than ten minutes, the professor continued to taunt God, saying, "Here I am God, I'm still waiting." With only a couple minutes remaining, a BIG football player walking down the hallway passed by the door and heard the professor's taunts. The football player slipped into the classroom. As the clock ticked through the last seconds before 15 minutes had passed, he sprinted, hitting the professor, and sending him flying off the platform into a couch on the side.
Cursing, the obviously shaken professor got up, exclaiming "Where did you come from and why did you do that?"
The burly football player replied, "God was busy, so He sent me!"
No offense to the atheists who might be reading, but I found this joke to be rather amusing!
But there is an important lesson to be learned from this.
"The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.'" ~ Psalm 14:1
I'll illustrate it in this way: I once encountered an atheist who said, "I prayed that God would do this for me, and He didn't!" His thesis was that, therefore, God doesn't answer prayer. Of course, he was an atheist, so he didn't believe in God (though he claimed to want to). Too often, skeptics will challenge God. Then when they don't get an answer, they immediately blame Him. But there are two points at fault here: 1) The atheist doesn't believe in God, so therefore He doesn't believe that God will hear him, and 2) he blames God -- whom he does not believe in -- for the lack of response! How would you feel if you were God? Don't you think that you'd feel a little gipped? Here, you have someone who doesn't even believe in you telling you to do something, and he doesn't even believe that it will happen! And when it doesn't happen because of his unbelief, you are to blame -- even though the person does not believe in you in the first place! Is that logical?
Try as you might to convince this type of person that God does answer prayer, he will not believe you. Why? Because HE didn't see it happen for him? And why didn't he? Because he didn't believe to begin with! See, Christianity rests on more than just blind faith. F. R. Beattie once said, "The belief of an individual involves the mind, the emotions, and the will. The Holy Spirit does not work a blind and ungrounded faith in the heart." God has to see that we trust Him before He will take any action on our behalf. It's just as James says, "Faith without works is dead." If you really believe God, your actions will show it; that is what James is saying. But what you ask for must be in accordance with God's Word; God is not your servant -- you serve Him! That can mean different things for different people. The problem is, people are so proud; we think that we want to be somebody, so the thought of humbling ourselves to do whatever God says is quite sobering. In fact, I believe that this is one of the reasons why many skeptics do not come to Christ; they think that they will have to give up everything they've ever known. They think that they will have to abandon sound reason in order to believe in God (as the atheist in my illustration did). The truth is, as Paul Littleton states, "Faith in Christianity is based on evidence; it is a reasonable faith. Faith in the Christian sense goes beyond reason but not against it." It will take a change of thinking (which can be hard when you have believed something for so long), but God knows the desires of each one's heart; if we serve Him, He will bring it to pass. So, in reality, we are not losing anything; we are GAINING all good things from God! If only we would just believe like Abraham! The Scriptures say, "... He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform" (Romans 4:20-21).
This is why I harp on faith all the time. It is essential; it is the very foundation of Christianity. If we don't know what we believe, how can we tell others -- especially those who question? Do we have faith? Do we REALLY? When times are tough, that's usually when we find out whether or not we possess it! It's time to start filling up on it now, before the problems arise! Real faith is believing against all odds that what God has promised, He is able to perform. I recently heard someone describe it like this: faith is a staircase with just enough light for each step. We may not always know where the road up ahead leads; but we know in Whom we believe, and we follow Him! Real faith says that no matter what I feel like, no matter what my preconceptions are, I'm going to believe God! Unfortunately, not everyone possess faith like this today, and this is why so many prayers are unanswered, just as this atheist's prayer was not. What do you think are some other stumbling blocks to prayer?
"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." ~ Hebrews 11:6