Three Characteristics of Christian Faith
If you have ever been strapped into a zip line, you have to first believe two things: first, the harness that the 16-year-old employee strapped on you can hold your body weight and second, you have to believe in the harness enough to leave the platform and trust that it will hold your body weight. In other words, the faith that you put into the harness is both belief and action.
What we learn in Daniel 3 from Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Rack, Shack and Benny in Veggietales) is that real faith has three characteristics. In the story, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are commanded to bow before King Nebuchadnezzer’s 90-foot golden image. For the other 300,000 government officials gathered for the dedication ceremony, this was no problem. But it was a problem for these three Jewish boys. King Nebuchadnezzer was furious that they wouldn't bow down. He gave them one more chance to change their minds and this is how they responded to him:
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up (Daniel 3:16-18 ).”
1. Our God is able
Real Christian faith knows the power and potential of our God. We believe that he can do anything! And the truth of the matter is that the power of God to raise Jesus from the dead is the same power that works in you and I today (Rom. 8:11). Therefore, faith-filled people hold some sort of trump card no matter the situation or diagnosis because at the end of the day we believe our God is fully able to come through.
2. Our God will
Real Christian faith believes that he can and expects that he will act. Bold faith is listening to what God calls us to do, taking a step of faith and then expecting him to meet us there. Faith-filled people are optimistic people. It’s one thing to believe that God is powerful, it’s another to believe that God wants to help us and has our best interest in mind.
3. But if not
If we had left it at the first two only, we have what’s been termed the “prosperity gospel.” The belief that God’s will is always for our earthly health and wealth. However, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego believed that God could be trusted, but even if he did not rescue them they were still going to believe him. They refused to bargain with God. See, we often say, “I’ll believe God only if” and then we fill in the blanks with what we want from him. But God says that we need to believe, “even if.” This is where the rubber meets the road with our faith. Sometimes God is glorified when He heals and delivers. Sometimes God is glorified when the answer is no and the healing isn’t on this side of eternity.
These three men have a lot to teach us about the Christian life. To summarize, they teach us that faith is believing that he can, expecting that he will and trusting him if he doesn’t. They teach us that whatever furnace we find ourselves in today, if you’re a follower of Christ he stands with you in it! They teach us that it’s not the absence of trouble but the presence of Jesus that will ultimately get us through this life. So take heart when you’re in trouble because you’re never alone.