The king declared to Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, “Are you able to make known to me the dream that I have seen and its interpretation?” Daniel answered the king and said, “No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days.” -Daniel 2:26-28
Nebuchadnezzar gave Daniel an impossible request: Tell me what I dreamed. As I read this story this afternoon, I was struck by Daniel’s incredible faith. Of all the responses he could have crafted for the murderous king, an attempt to tell him the dream and its interpretation was clearly the riskiest–falsifiable and deadly.
Yet, Daniel walked up to the king and told him what God had revealed to him, because he really believed that God had done so.
Faith is an essential element of the Christian faith. Evangelical protestants, in particular, have emphasized the (glorious) truth of Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” Our focus on faith (and the grace of God to save one simply through faith) is good and right; however, our intellectual assent to “salvation by faith alone” doesn’t always increase our faith.
Sometimes it does just the opposite. We are so sure that we believe salvation comes through faith that we often assume we have faith (two different things, like believing that hybrid cars are great and driving a hybrid). We often focus on a transactional faith event, like an altar call or the sinner’s prayer, both of which are appropriate expressions of true faith, but neither of which are inherent indications of it. We often teach our children that the reason they are already saved is because of faith, not what true faith would look like if they developed it. All this is to say, we don’t necessarily have the faith we assume we possess.
True faith in a political ideal would be more than passing a social studies midterm on that chapter of your textbook. It would be writing to your local officials, staying informed, convincing others of your views, and perhaps running for office.
True faith in Jesus is more than convincing others how much you know about God. It’s more than an ability to pass a true/false test on theology.
Typically, we see the symptoms of true, false, strong, or weak faith in our actions. Daniel (much like Esther), spoke up (faith), risking his position and his life (strong faith). The unnamed widow in Mark 12 generously gave (faith) the last of her money (strong faith). Stephen told others about Jesus (faith) even as he was being martyred (strong faith).
Which brings me to my question for the day: When was the last time you did something that required faith? Daniel had no choice; he reached a fork in the road without space for a u-turn. You probably do have a choice; you most likely can live:
A) A life without faith
B) A life with faith that doesn’t require faith
C) A life with faith that does require faith
Option B is like living with a classic car shut up in the garage. If you have it, you’re wasting it, and I’m not fully convinced you do. All of us live in the world of Option B from time to time, but today is a great day to wake up and take our faith for a spin.
There are countless opportunities in our world to test, build, and enjoy true faith, particularly caring for the poor, the captives, the blind, the oppressed. From the outside, it will probably look like sacrifice, but to the one truly acting in faith, it’s a bargain for a hidden treasure. So what will it be? How will you exercise your faith today?