To me, the power of faith in God is undeniable. It is powerful, life-changing, history-changing. I’ve seen it’s power in my own life, in the lives of others, and seen it’s impact in history and continue to see its accomplishments in today’s world events.
I placed my faith in Jesus when I was 8 years old and gave my life to His service when I was 14. These decisions of faith had a huge life-changing impact on my life and others around me. There is no question to me that my life has been positively impacted in many, many ways by placing my faith in Jesus. Because I believed in His purpose for my life, His plan for my life, His great wisdom in how my life should be lived, I became a better person in many ways. I’ve never been drunk (because I didn’t drink alcohol), haven’t been arrested or even had a speeding ticket until recently, and I’ve lived a responsible, caring life.
I’m not claiming that I lived an ascetic live but I was willing to live sacrificially for the good of others in many ways. I renounced materialism to a great extent, bypassed good-paying jobs to teach in Christian church schools. I put in many long hours, giving up normal pleasurable activities, to teach for Jesus (and work other jobs to put food on the table). My wife and I had family devotional time with our children to train them to follow Jesus. Even though I had a family of 7 and made $13,500 at teaching I still gave the tithe of 10% plus 2% more to the church. I could give many other examples of sacrificing, the point being that I gave of myself to train young people and serve Jesus because of my faith in Him.
I’ve seen faith in Jesus change others. I’ve been to the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago and heard the testimonies of changed lives from men and women who had been homeless drunks, felons, but who now were living useful, caring lives helping others find faith in Jesus. I’ve seen the great joy and peace on their faces as they told of their love for Jesus and how He has changed them. I’ve heard from gang members who’s lives were transformed by faith. I’ve read Chuck Colson’s book “Born Again” telling how his life was transformed from being a Watergate convict to being in ministry. My father quit smoking cold-turkey because of his faith in Jesus. John Newton went from being a drunken slave trader to the writer of “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me”. I could go on and on for days with examples of positive changes in lives from faith.
Faith in God has caused people to risk or give their lives to fight oppression. It has changed the course of history by winning battles, spreading knowledge, building nations, bringing order to society and much of what we consider civilization.
The positive power of faith in God, to me, is undeniable.
But I hope you’ve noticed a distinction in what I’ve been writing. Faith in God can be a very powerful thing in a life (by the way, for both good and bad). But I have not said that God is a powerful thing. I believe that the power of faith comes from the individual, not from some outside force. My believing in god changed my life, whether or not there really is a god. Muslims, Catholics, Hindus, Mormons, Lutherans, Jainists, Baptists, etc. all have a power in their faith even though they obviously don’t believe in a common god. The power comes from within them, not from a supernatural force. This is a very important distinction that religious people should understand.
Yes, their faith gives them hope, peace, love. It comforts them about death, it gives purpose to their lives, in many instances it makes them a better person. But it is not based on truth. The power they have comes from within them. Faith in _(fill in the blank)_ is a powerful thing! For ‘good’ or ‘evil’. I could give a very long list here of how faith in god has been extremely harmful to humanity and has caused much sorrow and strife.
My faith now is in my own desire to be happy and help those around me to be happy. My faith is in humankind, our innate desire to survive and help each other.
Which brings me to the need to clarify something I wrote in last month’s blog. I wrote that faith is the fault. While faith in a god can produce in some instances what most would agree are positive results, it also keeps us from understanding the reality of our existence, and creates some of the greatest evils in history. These are some of it’s faults. For me, life without faith has helped me to concentrate on enjoying THIS life, to see this life for what it is, all that I have, and I don’t want to waste it by living for some unseen future afterlife. By faith.