I have been reflecting recently on matters of faith. One thing in particular is around how a persons belief or perspective really drives and shapes their behaviour.
I have been frustrated with myself as well as with others with regards to changing particular attitudes or behaviours. With myself, I fall into the trap of thinking “is it possible?” and when it comes to helping others, I am tempted to give up when I don’t see people changing. It is a fact that it is difficult to believe one thing and then act another way. For example, as Christians, it is easy to say that Christ is important to us, but from our actions we really don’t behave in this way, hence our real belief is that He is not as important as we say He is to us! This was something that Jesus constantly challenged the Pharisees on. Unfortunately, many of us that claim to be his disciples do the same, however because we really want to change, we try to change by adopting new behaviours, but behaviours are the fruit of deeper things going on underneath.
I know that in many of our Churches we want to see people change and so the moment they start to demonstrate the right behaviour, the Church is satisfied, but unfortunately because it is a behaviour that hasn’t yet become a real belief, it is difficult to sustain. How Can we help others gain this belief? If belief is faith in action or we might say based on faith then the key is for each individual to see “through God’s eyes”.
Proverb 29:18 says: “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint;” another version says: “When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild.” Most people are familiar with the King James Version: “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” In all these versions what is constant is the concept of Perspective which another word we can use is Revelation.
‘Revelation’ is the most important aspect of faith and revelation simply means disclosure, this shifts our perspective on how we see everything. The Gospel is not an academic exercise; it is a message that has to be disclosed to the individual. To emphasize this, we see Jesus ensuring that his disciples know who he is (Mt 16:13-20) and when Peter confesses that he is the Christ, Jesus makes a profound statement that “flesh and blood has not revealed this but my Father in heaven”.
How do we get this revelation? Revelation comes through the scriptures – “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” The Psalmist wrote: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” In Matthew 4:4, Jesus said that ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’ .
Although most of us know this intellectually, unfortunately we don’t practice this in a manner that helps us gain the revelation we need. When we begin to see or have a perspective of things through God’s eyes it helps us gain faith and belief, which changes our attitude and then our Behaviour. However, it starts off with us behaving. What I mean by this is that for the process of gaining revelation to commence, we have to seek it (Acts 17:27). The specific behaviour is that of reading, studying and meditating on God’s word, through this He begins to reveal himself to us. This is a promise that New Testament Believers have. Hebrews 8:10 says “I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.”
Based on this, Church should be the place to inspire people to see the importance of feeding on God’s word yet, many people see Church as the place to simply be taught by someone else rather than doing their own searching. This is slightly different from what we can glean from the writings of The Apostle Paul.
For example in Colossians 1, Paul prays for the Church members saying: “So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honour and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better”. Col 1:9-10
Paul knew that asking God on their behalf to give them the “complete knowledge of his will” meant helping them to see or have a perspective of Jesus the way he did because the natural thing to follow is a fruitful life.
Paul understood that perspective is the key and that their revelation of who Jesus is will help change how they behave as he claims in Galatians 1:12 that his coming to know Jesus was via revelation, so, he is praying that the Galatians also see Jesus via revelation.
Again we see Paul in his letter to the Ephesians asking God for their “hearts to be flooded with light.” What was the purpose of this prayer? “So (they) can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called”. God has a plan for each individual, but they will only find out his plan for them via revelation and this will be their calling. But even before we get to our individual calling, the general calling placed on each person can only be followed whole heartedly when we see it through the eyes of revelation.
How Do We Do This?
By adopting a regular habit of studying the scriptures, we will be able to constantly see things from God’s perspective. How do we do this? Having habits that would help. We will examine this in my next post.