Faith, as described in Hebrews 11:1, is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”. A verse penned by 19th Century hymn writer Horatio Spafford, expresses it this way: “And Lord haste the day, when my faith shall be sight.”
Faith in God is the acceptance of the “assurance” found in Hebrews 11:1 and “conviction” that what may be unseen now, will be revealed someday. Those who devote their heart and mind to that belief, become totally subservient to the will of God – in turn, they have access to God’s favor promised in Romans 5:2.
What Happens When our Faith in God Gives Way to Fear?
Dr. Charles Stanley expounds that when our faith gives way to fear, our focus moves from Christ to our circumstances. We begin to take things into our own hands and when doing so, step out of the will of God. We are saying that we don’t believe him [or could it be that we only believe him when we’re comfortable?].
When faith gives way to fear, we no longer recognize the truth found in a verse from a well-known hymn.
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever will be.”
When we take our eyes off of God and focus them elsewhere for our fears, the purity of our faith and trust in him begins to conflagrate with a superficial religiosity that is in no way characteristic of a follower of Christ – a mutation of truth where God is created in our image, rather than we in his.
“Fear puts an end to openness of manner; fear leads to concealment; fear sows the seed of much hypocrisy, and leads to many a lie.” – J.C. Ryle
When we entrust our fears with ourselves or others instead of God, are we not denying Christ as Simon Peter did when he gave into fear?
Religiosity and the Slave
In her blog, “Things and Stuff”, Tiffany Ciccone shares a quote from Frederick Douglass, who escaped slavery in 1838 and became an influential activist for abolition. The quote gives us a glimpse into religiosity in the 19th Century.
“Between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference–so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked. To be the friend of the one, is of necessity to be the enemy of the other. I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land.”
Religiosity in America Today
There is a surging religiosity in America today coined “Trumpianity“, that parallels the one experienced by Douglass two centuries ago.
Driven in part by existential fears, those who subscribe to “Trumpianity” seek assurance, not from God, but from a political ideology led by a man who boasts about his sexual immorality. Religiosity, in the form of “Trumpianity”, subverts the Christian ethic embodied by Christ, and sears the conscience of those who choose to follow.
When Religiosity Becomes a Strawman for Christianity
The body of Christ is being commingled with the body politic, and it cannot be overstated how far we step out of the will of God when we incorporate this commingling into the narrative of our life.
The precept of compromise and commingling are not tenets of Christianity – a precept expounded on in the following verse:
“Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the LORD. Joyful are those who obey His laws and search for Him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in His paths. You have charged us to keep Your commandments carefully.” (Psalm 119:1-4)
Today, believers who once believed in the sacrosanctity of the Word of God, are being allured by fear into (and taken captive by) a deceptive religiosity that compromises his Word by commingling it with the godlessness of this world.
The antidote for religiosity may rest with those who have not been taken captive by it – as exhorted by Paul in 2 Timothy 2. We (just as Timothy, who was exhorted by Paul) should correct those who have fallen into religiosity, with “courtesy and gentleness” – so “that they may come to their senses“,
and step back into the will of God.