Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Jumping Out Of A Perfectly Good Airplane?

In my previous post I discussed an analogy of faith using a skydiving experience once upon a time. I pointed out that anytime I wanted to reflect on what it is to experience faith I simply recalled the thoughts and feelings I had had as I readied myself to jump. But as I considered these things in more depth as of late, I realized that there was more to the analogy than simply having faith that my parachute would open and thus save my body from death. The airplane began to represent this world and it’s thinking, and my life.

Paul spoke of a dividing point, or a separation that occurs in our minds. In Romans 8 he said that those who ARE according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh and those who ARE according to the spirit, the things of the spirit. In thinking back, the assurances offered by the airplane verses the lack of assurance in my parachute seemed to represent that division.

Staying with the airplane seems to be the obvious choice. The constant drone of the engine affirms my faith in the airplane. The controls affirm my faith in my will. The pilot affirms my faith in man’s ability. The airplane is safe.

When I was going through the little training course the morning of my jump the instructor anticipated the question: “What kind of fool would jump out of a perfectly good airplane”? He told us to answer the question when asked: “There’s no such thing as a perfectly good airplane”. This was, of course, in jest, but it fits well into the symbolism of this analogy. According to God, our lives are broken.

But faith is practiced. It is a life lived rather than a one-time decision to have faith. Faith is required at every turn, or, as James puts it, Faith without works is dead. It is as if we are, on a regular basis, required to make decisions in which the obvious choice, the one that feels right, the one that seems safest, the one that appears to promise us the highest level of peace and comfort is not the right choice. We generally know that it isn't the right choice, yet we experience these crises, both large and small, as we learn to trust in God instead of our own understanding.

Such crises can range from whether or not to go out on a date with someone attractive yet ungodly, to spanking one’s children, to breaking off a dating relationship, to telling the truth about something, to asking for help in an addiction, to homeschool, to not having an abortion, to trusting God to provide instead of the government with all its Satanic entangling strings attached, and on and on. In all of these, the point of decision is not the time to make up one’s mind. We must be ready ahead of time, before we are face to face with the decision, just as Joshua told the Israelites to “choose this day whom you will serve”.

I am afraid we live in a time in which many people preachers and theologians believe that we are saved by the one-time act of faith exercised when we “accept” Jesus. I am of the belief that this is a deception, and a horrible one at that, for it convinces people that faith is exercised by putting on the parachute, so to speak, then going on in life with the vain assurance that if their life falls apart or they die they have this sort-of ace in the hole. Meanwhile they never understand the One in whom they have placed their faith. Terms like joy and abundant life are interpreted as happiness because they are wholly foreign terms to the one who does not know his savior.

This is the airplane, a life that is according to the flesh. As for me, I have now begun to attempt to think and pray in terms of being both ready and able to face decisions based on a mind that is set on the things of the Spirit which is life and peace. I know I will have times of failure, but I also look forward to the times I jump, and in so doing, will KNOW my savior, and the wonderful joy that accompanies this intimacy, in new ways.

3 comments:

Stan said...

"It is a life lived rather than a one-time decision to have faith."

Peter wrote, "Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:5-8). I notice first the phrase "supplement your faith" because faith is a starting point, not an end point. Most interesting to me, though, is the later phrase "if these qualities are yours and are increasing". The image he paints is one of a circle or, rather, a spiral. Starting with faith, add in virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness brotherly affection, and love. Having gotten to love, now increase your faith, then add more virtue ... and so on. A practice rather than an event.

"I am afraid we live in a time in which many people preachers and theologians believe that we are saved by the one-time act of faith exercised when we “accept” Jesus. I am of the belief that this is a deception ..."

As you pointed out, James classifies faith in two categories. There is "living" (or "saving") faith and there is "dead" faith. The difference between the two is that one produces results and the other does not. At the end of the passage I quoted above, Peter writes of that ever-increasing spiral of increasing faith on through love, "Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall" (2 Peter 2:10). We don't know we're saved by "accepting" Jesus. We know we're saved by the product of faith.

Good post.

Jeremy D. Troxler said...

Dan,

I am reminded once again why I love so much reading what you write. The passion for the Lord, for knowing Him more deeply, for loving Him through obedience and faithfulness and being an example of what it really means to meditate of the Word. There is no question about your time spent thinking this through and the passion with which you write these words.

My comments were much akin to Stan's and since he is much more clear in his articulation than I, I will let it stand and simply second by affirmation and agreement.

I would say that in my personal walk I have been impressed by the phrase "compelled by love, not driven by duty" for some time now (the wording didn't come together so succinctly until just recently). As God transforms us into the image and likeness of Christ our love for Him grows deeper, which compels us to read and study and meditate on His Word, which shows us areas in our lives we need to change, which compels us to make changes, which shows us all over again how much God loves us and is gracious and merciful towards us, which compels us to desire to love Him more and grow deeper in our faith, and on and on. The spiral is such an apt descriptor because there is progress toward the goal in godliness. I picture a quite narrow spiral, the climb difficult and tiring, the places and opportunities to slip frequent, but the view of what lies ahead so sublime that turning back or even stopping is not an option. Thank you brother for sharing your heart, and for being an encouragement to press on.

Please keep posting, and be encouraged through one fellow believers testimony how your writing builds him up in his faith and helps to make his joy complete. May God bless you as you are compelled by love to know Him more.

Dan said...

Thank you so much Jeremy. I can't tell you how much your affirming words mean to me.