“What is the true meaning of my Christian faith?” I asked myself several years ago when I got acquainted with a young Muslim girl, while hospitalized for several weeks. During a stroll in the ward, I asked her whether she knew Jesus. Instead of personalizing her answer, she quickly replied in the “we” form, by saying, “we don’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God, like you Christians do.” She did not express her opinion but simply cited the standard Muslim reply.
Additionally, her reply indicated she assumed that I, as a Christian, also had a standard belief instead of my personalized view. And she took my question as being a theoretical question while I was referring to knowing Jesus personally as the basis of my Christian faith.
A woman’s faith
I told her about my life, how I met Christ, and how I got born again. After listening attentively to me, she summarized my story by raising a rhetorical question, thus not expecting me to reply. She said, “meaning if your husband was a Muslim, you would have been a Muslim.” This simple statement opened my eyes to what the basis of a Muslim woman’s faith is: you are Muslim because your parents or your husband are Muslims; it is not a choice.
Within the Muslim faith, generally, there is no place for a personal encounter, and neither is there any place for a personal choice. You are a Muslim because everyone in your surrounding is Muslim.
This conversation made me ponder about the faith of Christians. God gave a free choice: He loves all humankind, but we have the option to choose whether to love Him back. He gives everyone the choice to accept His Son as Lord and follow Him. God does not force Himself on anyone. No matter how much His heart yearns to reconcile with every single person on this planet earth.
What is faith according to the Bible?
The Bible has many references to faith, depending on the version we read. For example, ‘faith’ appears 336 times in the King James Version and 458 times in the New International Version. Jesus spoke much about faith and having faith.
Bible verses about faith
We find the number one Bible verse about faith in Hebrews 11. This verse shows what faith is:
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV).
Our Christian faith is directed to God, not to ourselves or to the world, or anything else:
“that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God”.
1 Corinthians 2:5 (NKJV)
Through faith we will please God:
“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”
Hebrews 11:6 (NLT).
Faith is a gift
God gives us the opportunity to get to know Him personally and accept Him as Lord. Even when our families, general surroundings, and friends are not Christians, we can become believers.
I made that choice at twenty-five. Since then, my conviction that Christ is Lord has been the basis for my faith. I don’t want to take the credit, though, because faith is a gift from God. A gift that anyone can accept or reject. Our faith is a gift to receive and a free choice to make.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast”
Ephesians 2: 8-9 (NLT)
What is the full meaning of faith?
Throughout the years, I have observed that the theoretical perspective on faith is not reserved for Muslims only. Many Christians don’t know Christ personally, yet they follow all the habitual rituals of a Christian. They attend church because of an obligation to their family or social environment; read the bible as being a theoretical book; follow a particular lifestyle because that is how you are expected to live as a Christian; pray as part of the standard Christian custom instead of praying out of a personal desire to talk with Jesus, etc.
When we choose to follow Jesus, it doesn’t make us model Christians (if something like that even exists). To prevent drifting into a pitfall of superficial Christianity, we should ask ourselves two questions: “what is true faith?” and “what is the basis of my faith?” These questions keep us on track. Aligning our lives with Christ’s life is not a onetime event. Every day has many opportunities to reconfirm our faith (and we will most likely fail several of them).
So then, why is a ‘once-for-all’ choice not sufficient? Why can’t we simply say “yes” to Jesus and then go on? Because rituals and habits derived from our general environment, family, church, daily chores, peer pressure, etcetera, can so easily distract and shift us from the true perspective of our faith.
A personal choice
The daily options and distractions are so many! Every test gives us the opportunity to reconfirm our faith (or fail to do so). Only when we know the full meaning of our faith, will we be able to tap into it every time when an opportunity pops up. Nothing can then take us by surprise, but we could rely on our solid foundation without wavering. No ad hoc decisions anymore; only choices based upon the foundation of our faith: Christ Jesus.
“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
I Corinthians 3:11 NKJV
“Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, A tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily.”
Isaiah 28:16 (NKJV).
Jesus, the true foundation of our faith
Jesus is the true foundation of our faith and the rock we can build upon. Foundations are the lowest load-bearing part of a building, meant to build upon. Foundations are not self-contained structures. Being the foundation of our faith, Jesus bears our loads (no need for us to carry them!). We can safely build our lives on Him.
Second, foundations are built with the end-state of the structure in mind: a well-designed and completed building. In the same way, we are the building that God had in mind: He imagined us when He laid the foundation for our lives. We can think we are building our own lives, but in reality, God is the true architect of our lives.
God, the architect
God did not create us randomly or haphazardly, He carefully designed us and subsequently created us based upon His master-plan.
God is the architect; we are just the contractors. A contractor should follow the architectural instructions and build exactly according to the blueprint: the master-plan. He ought to build upon the foundation suitable to hold the rest of the structure, exactly as designed by the architect. If he does not, the building would, in the best case, not resemble the intentions of the architect. In the worst case, it would not hold at all and break down.
The same applies to us. We are just God’s laborers. If we would not build upon the foundation nor follow the instructions of the architect, we would eventually break down. Jesus should be the basis of our faith.
Our faith, our strength
Seeing that God has designed and laid the proper foundation, who are we to reject this foundation and build on anything else? If we build on a different foundation than the one laid—Jesus—our lives will not hold. Worse, the architect would reject us: God Himself.
Even if we believe we have built a beautiful house, if the foundation is wrong, the building cannot be right and will come down eventually. It is not our beautifully constructed building that matters, but the foundation does. The foundation determines the strength of the superstructure.
Similarly, when we know the vocabulary of the architect (religious speech) and can explain all the architectural instructions (quote God’s Word) and know the architect by name (God Almighty) and visit him in his office (the church), but do not build according to his plan (God’s will), it would not benefit us anything: the building would still be rejected.
““Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”
Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV).
The basis of our faith
What a horrifying thought! To live an enjoyable life here on planet Earth, but the Son of God to reject us when this life is over. Wow! Terrifying! How can we escape? How do we ensure Jesus will know us?
Well, that’s simple: we should follow the rules! Follow the architect’s directions and build on the intended foundation. Follow the instructions and build according to the architect’s plan. We should simply do what He tells us to do.
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
Matthew 7:24-27 (NKJV)
We should choose the foundation of our Christian faith well, because we are only as strong as our foundation. When we choose a solid foundation, we will be strong.
Build upon Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, and you will be strong. Let Jesus be the basis of your faith.
“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith”
Lord forgive me for each time I was stubborn and didn’t follow your instructions. Forgive me for not recognizing You as the true foundation of my life. Forgive me when I missed the opportunity to reconfirm my faith in You.
Guide me, Lord, into your principles; let me truly understand Your plan for my life. And let me build my life according to Your Word. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
©2022; Christel Owoo