Don’t You Want “Next Level” Faith?
Recently, I saw footage of a very popular pastor telling his congregation about “taking their relationship with Jesus to the next level.” When I first heard him talk about “some very practical ways” to do this, my ears perked up. Hey, I’m a planner. I’m a big picture, progress guy – I like to see the ball move down the field. I like to see points go up on my side of the board. How about you?
With a little evaluation, though, the Galatian heresy (see Gal 3:1-6) appears to rear its head… “You’re in charge. The Gospel just needs YOUR steps of action to work its full magic.” Uh-oh… How do you come back from that? Yes, obedience matters, but does obedience begin with us? “Faith without works is dead.” But, does obedience begin with your 5 step, 3 bullet-point, 90 day action plan? Or, does it begin with what’s already been done on your behalf?
It’s easy to point to guys like Abraham and say – “Abraham put his faith into action…”all the while forgetting that there was nothing outstanding about Abram that made God choose him in the first place. Abram “stepped out in faith”, but did his faith really “activate God’s blessing in his life”? No. God does not need our help. He requires our obedience. To those who would believe that Abraham activated God’s blessing, I must humbly ask – what if Abram didn’t step out in faith? Would God’s plan to create a covenant people have failed? Clearly, God would have had a covenant people with or without Abraham.
Yes, Abraham was obedient to God. Yes, Abraham received great blessings that changed him from “exalted father” to “father of a multitude” – but this blessing was already available. The question we must ask is “what do we miss out on when we run from God and fail to step out in obedience. For some both in the Old and New Testaments – it meant death on the spot. For others, it means loss of blessings that will go do someone else.
Regardless, we must keep in mind what we bring to the table in our salvation – “need for a Savior”. This does not change once we have a Savior. Obedience is rewarded, but God is never manipulated and is no respecter of men. There is nothing we can do to take our faith to the next level – that is God’s job and He will carry on this work until the day of Christ Jesus – see Phil 1:6. Our faith does not fail to grow because of a “step” we missed in the algorithm of “success”, but when we take matters into our own hands to “help” God. 1 Thess 4:3 tells us that God is already in the business of conforming us to the image of Christ. Best advice? Get out of His way and join in the work already in progress!
If you have been chosen by God to receive sonship and adoption – you have done nothing to warrant it, so be grateful. We get to walk in obedience because we worship a God who loves us enough to call us to obedience. Experience in prayer today that God uniquely loves you and has called you according to His purposes. Now, experience it when He gives you another breath and another… and yet another.