Michael B Linton

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Faith is ugly...grace is beautiful.

There is nothing pretty about trusting when things are not going according to our plan. It's not fun, it routinely hurts, and it can often be fraught with disappointment. That's faith for you: ugly.

I'm afraid we have a glamorous view of faith (thank you Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Jesse Duplantis, Joel Osteen, et al). We tend to think if we can verbalize it God will materialize it. I'm afraid it doesn't work that way. We may want healing or deliverance or wealth but it may not come the way we think it should. We may want the path that we know God has set before us to be smooth and non-threatening, but life isn't made up of such.

If we think otherwise, we must conclude that the Apostle Paul had no faith. Shipwrecked, beaten, left for dead, maligned, ridiculed, and ultimately, tradition tells us, beheaded at the behest of Nero. What a faithless idiot! All he had to do was name it and claim it and God would have made him a wealthy success with his own internationally famous ministry tour, a private boat, no health problems, and mass conversions at the mere sound of his voice. He just didn't know what he was doing. He should have consulted Benny or Jesse.

Or maybe, just maybe, Paul knew something we need to learn: that faith is ugly and grace is beautiful. There are no clear-cut answers to faith. Yes, some are healed by faith. Some find their paths smooth. Some have successful ministries. But some, with equal or stronger faith, don't. Are we to assume Jeremiah had no faith either? When was the last time we saw Benny weeping that no one was responding to his message? To hear him tell it, he never fails. And Benny hasn't gotten his own book in the Bible.

The point is, faith is not clear cut. We have faith that God will see us through. Paul had it. Jeremiah had it. But faith does not mean everything will be easy. Faith means that we hope in and trust something stronger than ourselves when it is obvious we can't do it on our own. Again, it's ugly because we don't know the end result; we just have faith.

But grace is beautiful. Grace tells us that, not only will God see us through, but that there are great things in store for us. Grace says that, though our strength will fail, we will be lifted up. Grace tells us that when faith doesn't get us what we think we need, grace is all we need. Paul was told, when faith did not make things easy, that God's grace is sufficient. Here, read it for yourself.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Doesn't sound like a man concerned that he didn't get what he wanted, but that God gets what He wants. He wants our faith, ugly as it may be, because He knows the beauty of His grace. He knows that grace says when we are weak, we are strong in the power of Christ. When we can't, God can.

So, while we may be able to speak of the blessings of God and the deliverance from any variety of trials, the stronger testimony is the one that tells of all-sufficient grace; of not seeing the deliverance but seeing the power of God in the life determined to follow through the darkest valley. It's in the dark that the beauty of grace shines its brightest, and the power of an ugly faith-beaten and bruised and bloody-is fully felt.

1 comment:

spiritfilledmac said...

WHY CANT WE ALL JUST GET ALONG,you relly should leave the super friends alone. But I will agree that faith is UGLY. Faith is the girl you would not take to prom but spend sooo much time trying to work things out with her.Thank God for grace
chris mccarthy