Characteristics of a serving faith
LAST WEEK, we began a series that looks at faith that is not only for us and our needs. To live the abundant life God prepared for us, we don’t only need saving faith – that gives us eternal life – but serving faith, which is used to bless those around us. So what does serving faith look like? Let’s look at the story of the paralytic man and his friends, found in Luke 5 and Mark 2, to find out the characteristics.
1. A serving faith hurdles obstacles
When they arrived at the house where Jesus was, it was full. People jammed the doorways, there were kids in the windows – how would this small band of friends attract Jesus’ attention? They had to make a choice. Do we go in or give up? When we are called to persevere in the gap for others, our faith is too easily stopped by some obstacles. Just inviting someone to church once or twice is not enough.
What would have happened if the friends had given up, shrugged their shoulders, and mumbled something about the crowd being too big before turning and leaving? They had done their good deed for the day by coming so far, right? You can only do so much for somebody. But these friends wouldn’t give up.
One had an idea, and the others listened to the plan to climb to the top of the house, cut a hole in the roof, and lower their friend down with their sashes. It was risky; they could fall. It was dangerous; he could fall. It was unorthodox; digging a hole in someone’s roof is antisocial. It was intrusive; Jesus was busy, but it was the only chance to see Him. They climbed on to the roof and dug through it. As the paralytic is lowered before Jesus, He doesn’t rebuke them for the commotion they have caused, the destruction of the property, or the dirt scattered by the hole they made. Jesus acknowledges their faith.
Faith does the things these friends did. Faith does the unexpected and gets God’s attention. What more can we do to bring the lost and broken to Christ? We might have prayed for them and maybe even spoken to them, but what else can we do? How can we ‘actionise’ our faith?
2. A serving faith is a living Word
How much faith do we have in other things (like money) to give us peace, happiness, and joy? Jim Carrey, who is one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors, once said: “I wish everyone could get rich and famous and everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”
The four friends had faith in the one true source of joy, of happiness, of true riches: the living God. Their actions showed that they trusted in the all-sufficient, all-knowing, all-powerful God, the One who is and was and is to come and to whom nothing is impossible. One of the most powerful ways our faith can serve the kingdom is by being a living example. When others see our lives, what message are we sending? Do they want what we have when they see how much we trust God and live in His peace and joy? Is the love of God evident in our lives?
3. A serving faith goes the extra mile
The paralytic’s friends had an expectant faith in Jesus for their friend. They believed that Jesus would operate in their friend’s best interest, so they did all they could to take him to Jesus. They did all they could in faith so that their friend’s life would be changed. Are we doing all we can so that someone else can be touched by Jesus and their life can be forever changed?