Bill Johnson said in his book When Heaven Invades Earth that the opposite of faith is not doubt, it is fear.
Doubt is often fear-based. We might doubt God's healing power, for example, because we are afraid we won't be healed. To combat the doubt we first need to confront the fear.
In scripture the book of Hebrews has a lot to say about faith. Hebrews chapter 11 verse 1 defines it as being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it.
The simplest definition of being a Christian is choosing to follow Jesus. This can be described as having faith in him, in his teachings and in his divinity. Choosing to believe these things are real even though they are unseen.
Once someone explained to me that a sick person 'had a faith issue' and that is why they were not getting healed. We have all seen a TV evangelist who wants you to send him money 'in faith'. Occasionally while discussing biblical interpretation I have heard it said that 'you just have to have faith', which quickly shuts down a conversation.
These situations can give an unfavourable impression to the concept of faith and make it difficult to explain the wider picture that faith gives us.
We live in faith
However we live lives of faith. We go to work because we have faith that we will be paid, the money may not be in our account yet but we believe it will be. If we have a fear of not being paid then we lack faith in our employers. When we sit on a chair we have faith it will hold us up.
Looking at Jesus we can have faith in him and his teachings not because we can see them but because of our experience and the experience of others.
A lot of faith comes from our own experiences with God. We cannot see him with our eyes, but we can see how he has affected our lives, we can see the results of our prayers. We have felt his presence and know he is real.
Just as we believed we would get paid for our very first job because of other people's experiences, we believed in Jesus because someone told us about their experience with him. Just like when we sit down we believe the chair will hold us and we can also believe that when we pray, God is there listening.
God is faithful to us
We can be sure God is there for us because he is more faithful to us than we can ever be to him. The theme of God's faithfulness runs through the scriptures.
Exodus chapter 34, verse 6 tells that the Lord is abounding in love and faithfulness. Deuteronomy chapter 7, verse 9 says he is the faithful God keeping his covenant of love for a thousand generations. The Psalms are full of praise for God's faithfulness.
As we read the Bible we begin to see how truly faithful our God is. We can see that our trust in him is based on his character and his faithfulness. The writers of scripture experienced God's faithfulness, the Bible contains their experience of God and we can be sure that he remains the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Even if we have not yet seen God's faithfulness in our own lives we can stand firm on the experiences of others, knowing that our God is true and our faith is not misplaced. We can let go of fear and worry knowing that he is worth trusting.
Without fear what could we accomplish?
Fear is nothing but a downer. It hinders us, stopping us enjoying life, creating worry and anxiety. Worry is the outworking of fear. It causes us to live small, timid lives, avoiding of risk or change. A fear of failure prevents us from trying new things.
In our minds the worry of the 'what if it all goes wrong' can easily overtake the possibility of success. As a consequence we find it increasingly hard to step out and try something different.
When we chose to believe God will do something, even though he might not we are exercising faith. When we decide to believe in the possibility of success rather than failure we are choosing faith and we are set free from anxiety.
Then a world of exciting opportunity opens up before us.
Imagine what you could do if you thought you would succeed. Imagine a world full of people all rejecting fear and trying new things. Through faith, the entire world could change.
First published September 9, 2015
Kara Greening trained in biology, works in chemistry and wonders about the physics of the tardis in Doctor Who. She is passionate about exploring her faith and being wholehearted in life. She is married to a primary school teacher and they have two fluffy fat cats.
Kara Greening's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/kara-greening.html