You’ve probably heard it a hundred times. It’s one of the oldest preacher stories around. But it still provides a powerful illustration of the personal nature of faith…
One day long ago, a world-renowned tightrope walker came to Niagara Falls and stretched his rope across the thunderous currents from the United States to Canada. Right before the eyes of the breathless crowds, he walked, ran, and even tiptoed across the chasm. He then did the same blindfolded. Then, still blindfolded, he pushed a wheelbarrow across the falls.
The crowd went wild when the aerialist shouted, “Who believes I can push a man in this wheelbarrow across these falls?” One rather enthusiastic gentleman in the front of the crowd waved his hand in the air, shouting, “I do! I believe!” “Then,” said the tightrope walker, “climb on in!” Needless to say, the once eager spectator dropped his hand and slinked back into the crowd. His intellectual assent didn’t quite translate into personal faith.
Faith…what is faith really? Ask five different people and you’ll probably get five different answers. Critics claim that faith is simply believing in something you know in your heart isn’t true. Skeptics suggest that faith means believing in something despite the lack of any real evidence. The dictionary defines faith as “belief and trust in and loyalty to God; belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion; or firm belief in something for which there is no proof.” None of these give the right perception of what my heart feels when I have proper faith.
The Bible says, “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). Faith then is essential for a right relationship with God. Faith is also essential to maintain that relationship.
I like to think of faith like this:
1. Faith is believing in God
2. Faith is believing in God…again. By this I mean, we step out on His promises. We go to him with a boldness, which is different than a “cockiness”. “Lord, I believe!” Step out and prove what He has said concerning prayer. Step out and prove what He has said concerning being more than conquerors. Remember the Hebrews “Hall of Faith”? Every one of them did something after you find the word faith.
The fellow, who raised his hand in the above story, may have intellectually accepted that the tightrope-walker could push a man in a wheelbarrow across Niagara Falls, but he didn’t believe it enough to act on it. Genuine faith requires us to take action. While the Bible is clear that we are saved by faith and not by works, it is equally clear that real faith works! Listen to what James, the brother of Jesus, wrote about faith… “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” (James 2:17)
Step out on faith and build that RU class. Step out by faith and develop those students for His glory. Did you really start ministering to the addicted to quit when things got hard? This morning, did you check your faith tank? Get in God’s Word. Summarize your Pastor’s messages and begin anew to say in your heart – “I believe that!” Not once, but twice! The first time is an intellectual step. The second time is an action, a step of faith!