An important part of the design of a car is its crashworthiness, which is its ability to protect its occupants during an impact. Car companies conduct crash tests of their vehicles, deliberately crashing them under controlled conditions in order to evaluate and improve their performance under impact. It means that you and I can drive around with confidence that next time we hit a pothole the whole thing won’t catch fire.
Question: is your faith crashworthy?
In a time of crisis, is your faith able to protect you from the impact? Are there ways you can crash test your faith to find out? In 2 Corinthians 13:5, Paul recommends that we do just that:
“Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it.” MSG.
So, how can you crash-test your faith? How can you develop confidence in what you believe? I’ve thought of a couple of questions you could ask:
Is my faith firmly backed up by Scripture?
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17.
Know your Bible – it’s the inspired word of God! 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that all Scripture is God-breathed, so although it was physically written down by man it is a communication straight from the Father. The Bible also – by adjective and by example – describes God to us. It tells us about His nature, His character, and His desires. When we think of it like that – that the Bible is God’s own description of Himself and what He wants from us – it’s hard to see why we aren’t glued to the Scriptures more! What could be a more encouraging to our faith than being able to turn to the words of God Himself for assurance?
Chuck Swindoll wrote of memorising Scripture:
“No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified.” (Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994], p. 61).
Knowing Scripture shouldn’t be seen as an optional extra of the Christian life. Jesus Himself knew the Scriptures intimately, and when He was tempted in the wilderness it was the Scriptures that He leaned on (Matthew 4:1-11). If even Jesus used the Scriptures in His moment of trial, how much more should we be arming ourselves with the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17)!
Is my faith personal to me?
” ‘But what about you?’ [Jesus] asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ “Matthew 16:15.
God is all about relationship, and relationship is personal. Way before there was any kind of law or commandment or doctrine or church, there was a relationship between a man (Adam) and his Father. From the time He breathed His spirit into humanity (Genesis 2:7), to the time He gave up His spirit for humanity (Matthew 27:50), to the time He filled us with His Spirit (Acts 2:4), God Has been giving us Himself.
Because of the deeply personal nature of God, we cannot relate to Him truthfully by the regurgitation of facts or statements of dogma. Collective knowledge is insufficient. There is no such thing as vicarious faith.
As children grow up, there comes a time when they move from trusting everything their parents and teachers say to realising that these people might sometimes be wrong. That’s healthy and normal, and it’s an important part of our spiritual growth too. We need to step back from what we learned in Sunday School and move our faiths from our ears and into our hearts.
If your faith rests on what you have been told and not what you have discerned for yourself to be true, when the wind and waves of life come, it’ll be a lot harder to cling on to.
What is the fruit of my faith?
Has your faith changed you? Does it inform who you are, and who you are working to become? If not, it’s intellectual belief rather than true faith. James 2:20 tells us that:
“Faith without works is dead.” KJV
Faith is active, not passive. It’s not a fuzzy warm feeling of security or a cold analytical assessment of likely truth. A living faith is expressed by obedience and service, by reliance, by stepping out into the unknown, by doing things you know you couldn’t do in your own power. It’s the difference between saying ‘I believe in the scientific principles behind a parachute’ and actually jumping from a plane with one strapped to your back.
While you’re crash-testing your faith, examine your life and actions. Do they display faith? Your works can’t save you (Galatians 2:15-16), but they can be a good indication of your heart.
Do I regularly pray for more faith?
Faith is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9). It’s up to us to work it, but ultimately it’s Him that supplies it. If you earnestly ask God for faith, and you are doing your bit by studying His word and living out His commands, He’s not going to withhold it from you (Philippians 4:6-7). We can beat ourselves up a bit for not having ‘enough’ faith, but as long as we show a willingness to live by the faith we have received, we will not be short of it.