“For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar;”—Romans 3:3-4 (KJV)
Just before I sat down to meditate on the faithfulness of God, even amidst the meditation, there was a battle raging in my own heart: a fight to be faithful to God and His spoken word at that very moment. I am not sure that this is a fight I would win on any day.
This may be your problem too—if you are honest enough to admit it. The thoughts that run through your mind and the acts that they lead to are a divine shame. We all struggle with faithlessness.
Sin, boiled down to one word is unbelief, or faithlessness. Because sin is birthed by the desire to find an alternative to the standards and boundaries God has set. One theologian said that when a man enters a brothel pleasure himself with a prostitute, what he is actually looking for is God.
Sinfulness, by definition, is our natural tendency to look for God in places where he cannot be found—in things smaller than Jesus. To ask if you struggle with sin would be stupidity and incompetence on my part. Sin is everyone’s problem. And so, it follows that faithlessness is everyone’s problem.
But amidst your faithlessness, do you ever feel that God has, or will give up on you unless you clean up your act? Do you ever feel that that your faithlessness will nullify God’s faithfulness to you? I believe, like me, you do too.
Paul encountered such objections. The children of Israel had been unfaithful to God but were the chosen people, the children of Abraham. And so the question was: “Will the faithlessness of the Children of Israel nullify the faithfulness of God (to His promise to Abraham)?” Paul’s answer was big fat no. Absolutely not! “God forbid!” the KJV says.
God’s faithfulness to us doesn’t depend on how faithful we are to him. If it were like that, then Jesus would still be waiting for us to be faithful so that He comes down here to die. And why would a sane God die for a faithful person? The coming of Jesus, then, is a testament to our faithlessness.
God, in Jesus comes for the faithless, not those who manufacture Chinese-bred-faithfulness. The other day, a Chinese zoo which didn’t have a lion came up with a brilliant idea. They got a huge dog, put wool around its neck and presented it to visitors as a lion. Hell broke loose when the lion started barking. Since then, their troubles have been increasing day by day. I feel sorry for the guide who was on duty that day.
You see, what most of us claim to have is not faithfulness. In the economy of the gospel, it’s a dog-lion kind of faithfulness. We have come up with tricks and tweaks of trust that we call faithfulness. My prayer is that you will leave that junk on the garbage heap near you as Jesus draws you near to Himself.
Even our ability to be faithful to God is not faithfulness at all. Faithfulness does not come from inside us. Because at the core, faithfulness is first and foremost not a thing to be done, than it is a gift to be received. A gift from God.
It is God who faithes the faithless. The faithful are so because they have already been faithed by God the faither. He fills faithless and doubting hearts with His faithfulness. To us who struggle to be faithful, he freely gives his faith, the faith that won’t leave us. We take nothing but receive everything.
Now go and be faithless, giving up on all attempts at manufacturing your own trust in the hope that He who is faithful will faith you. Those who believe and have received the finished work of Jesus are faithless in themselves but above all, faithful in God. The faithfulness we have is for us but apart from us—it comes from without—it’s passive.
God’s faithfulness to us does not depend on how faithful we are to him, but rather, His faithfulness to us births in us a gift of faith which, with time, grows towards God. It all starts and ends with God the faither.
Now go and be faithless…
That is your Lifeline, AMEN.