Every one of us face the persistent possibility of a failure of our faith. I know that I must pray continually, exercise faith constantly, practice my Christian convictions ceaselessly to remain unfaltering in the faith. Even the great Apostle Peter was not immune from faltering faith. Jesus prayed for Peter “that your faith may not fail.” “The spirit is willing,” observed Jesus, “but the flesh is weak.”
Faltering faith is the result of an inner conflict between body and spirit. As Paul taught, “For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition to each other, so that you cannot do what you want.”
Homeostasis, that state of being in balance, usually refers to the physical body. Our physical bodies have procedures, such as breathing and heart rate, to preserve itself within carefully circumscribed parameters. (If we get too hot, we perspire. If we get too cold, we shiver. These physical processes act to uphold a typical body temperature of around 98.6.)
We should also have a spiritual balance, a homeostasis that will keep our spiritual selves within circumscribed Christian parameters. Daily prayer, Bible study, church attendance and acts of kindness will nourish our souls in a spiritual homeostasis. Repentance can also restore our spirit to a state of balance and equilibrium.
"One indication of spiritual sustainability," as explained in Sustainable Spirituality: Maintaining Faith in the Face of Adversity, "is our responsive resolve to live a Christian lifestyle. As our faith becomes more resilient, we can respond more maturely to trials, temptations and tragic events that will certainly surface in our lives."
Jesus warned us to “not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the one who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Once they have done whatever they will to the body, there is “nothing more they can do.” The Apostle Paul encouraged us to “say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’”
We cannot and should not trust in physical strength alone. Physical strength, even on steroids, can falter in its grip on faith. Peter explained that “whatever a person succumbs to, to that he is enslaved.” We become physically enslaved by the physical desires that incorrectly and sufficiently obsess us, including the subtle forms of sin. We are enslaved by our desires for status and worldly recognition, by craving worldly riches instead of treasures in heaven and by the allure of sensualism. Faltering faith mirrors basic human deficiencies like ancient Israel’s: “They are a perverse generation, children who show no loyalty.” The physical self is never free but Christ continually displays for us the way to freedom from slavery to sin and self.
When we yield ourselves to God and submit to His great Will, we break the bonds of slavery. Those who do not falter in their faith during days of darkness and despair will garner more of the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. When we welcome and acknowledge God’s promises in complete faith, as Paul describes, then we are entitled to the full harvest of faith. Our constant confidence should be in Christ.
Faith falters when we succumb to peer pressure or to the shame and scorn heaped on us by the doubters of the world. Doubters do not generally desire to believe. They want the full harvest without working the farm. By not being active in the process of faith, they do not receive the reinforcing rewards of the faithful. C. S. Lewis made the point that those without faith are entitled to dispute with those who have faith about the grounds of their “original assent,” but doubters should not be surprised if “after the assent has been given, our adherence to it is no longer proportioned to every fluctuation of the apparent evidence.”
"Sustainable Spirituality" reminds us that the call of Christ to remain resilient to the end is fundamental to our faith. God doesn't just want starters; He wants finishers. He wants disciples who compute the cost and are willing to stay in the battle until its conclusion.
As followers of Christ we must shed our bunker mentality and move throughout the world wearing the whole armor of God and carrying the sturdy shield of faith to quench the fiery darts of the adversary. As disciples, we seek to share the contagion of our faith. We will have hearts full of love when the “love of many will grow cold.” When peace has been taken from the earth, we will have the peace of Christ in our homes and in our souls. In a churning world of turmoil and fear where everything will be in commotion, we will be spiritually intact.
The final days of the earth will bring a compression and commotion of events. Discouragement and discontent will seek to destroy our faith. Our eventual home in the hereafter depends on whether our knees bend before Christ or shake before the world.
Learn more about unfaltering faith in the book, "Spiritual Sustainability: Maintaining Faith in the Face of Adversity."
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