Big Faith is our Starting Point (Value 3)
“We dream big and often end up at the ridiculous”
As we look at value three in our Creating Culture series, I’m challenged that Big Faith isn’t always my starting point… and I’m sure I’m not alone in that.
There can be many things that get in the way of us having faith for God to come through in our circumstances. It might be the trials we are facing, unanswered prayer, or even when God says no to our requests. It could even be that we haven’t been placing our faith in God in the first place. Many of us are prone to magnifying the problem that we are facing, rather than seeing that God is greater than anything we might come up against in our lives.
The story of Gideon, one of Israel’s judges, is a great example of this. At the time when God called him to be a judge over Israel, they were facing one of their greatest enemies, the Midianites, an army that boasted 135,000 in its ranks. (You can read the full story here in Judges 6-7)
We’re not given the impression that Gideon was a man of ‘big faith’, the angel finds him threshing wheat in the wine press because he’s hiding away from the enemy, fearful that they will steal his crops! It’s totally understandable, the enemy they faced at the time was enormous. But God was about to take him on a journey of realising that God’s power to save is far greater than the vast army of Midian.
Firstly, the angel calls him ‘Mighty Warrior’, he speaks faith and courage over Gideon. Gideon clings to his weakness though, he believes he is the weakest in his family, in other words “I think you’ve got the wrong guy”. But God doesn’t give him a pity party, he simply promises him his presence in place of his weakness: “I will be with you” (Judges 6:16).
Throughout Gideon’s journey from not a lot of faith, to big faith, God shows him various signs of his power. Remembering the things that God has done in our lives, acts as a great accelerant to seeing our faith grow.
Gideon has to go through some other painful experiences on this journey to big faith. God challenges him to pull down the idols his family have set up at home. The first step to having faith is about working out who or what we are going to put our faith in.
Then Gideon goes about pulling his army together to take on Midian’s 135,000 warriors. Clearly the nation is scared as only 32,000 turn up to fight for Gideon, but God has got other ideas. He tells Gideon that 35,000 is too many – I know what my response would have been at this point (anger, frustration, fear etc.) So Gideon gives his warriors a chance to go home if they don’t want to fight – 22,000 leave, 10,000 remain. Still too many though!
Eventually God whittles down Gideon’s army to 300. That’s the equivalent of 1 Israelite to every 450 Midianite. In other words, Gideon needs some BIG faith!
God gives him another sign and off they go to fight. But in an incredible battle story, we see that God fights on their behalf, causing confusion in the enemy camp where they all fight within and suddenly the impossible happens and the Midianites are defeated.
Our vision as a church is to follow Jesus and love broken people back to life. We face that task in a broken community, often times leading out of our own brokenness. As we think about the mountains we face, it soon sounds a lot like 135,000 against 300. Many of us are tempted to turn away from the battle, to hideaway, because we don’t have the courage for it.
We can reach our town for Jesus though, because we can be confident that God is in the business of saving lives, He’s done it before and He’ll do it again!
How can we grow in our faith? I’m glad you asked… here are some simple things we can be doing in our lives:
(1) Ask yourself the question: Who or what are you putting your faith in? If it’s not Jesus then you’re magnifying something else to be bigger than Him.
(2) Read your Bible. It’s a simple, yet incredibly fruitful way to grow in faith. Start with Hebrews 11, build up your faith through what God has done, look up the stories in Hebrews 11.
(4) Watch the baptism stories on our website.
(5) Start journaling what God is doing in your life. Look back over your life – what have you got to be thankful for?
(6) Look over old journals for answers to prayer – you’ll be amazed at what you probably forgot you’d asked God for…
(7) Get connected and stay connected. Join a connect group as a way of growing in friendship with other believers and deepening your faith.
(8) ASK – with big faith fuelled by devotion and praise.