A reader writes in response to my last article, “Saying that we only trust Christ and everything will happen by some kind of spiritual osmosis is not reality.”
To “only trust Christ”: what does that look like? Well, if I really trust that there is a Person living me who is love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, humility, and even faith – who in fact is the Source from which all these things flow – if I really trust and rely on this person, and step out in faith that he is there, living in me, trusting that he will live through me, does that mean I just sit on the couch? It is like trusting God for our finances. “Lord, I’m trusting you, so I’m going to watch tv until a check arrives at my door.” It doesn’t work that way – that is not expectant, reliant faith. Faith in that area, as in any other, involves expectation – expecting God to act, to come through, and so we have an attitude of looking for the needed supply. In other words, we start looking for the opportunities he will send our way
Likewise, when we trust in Christ within us to live through us, this God who promises, “I will cause you to walk in my ways and keep my statutes” (note that he is the causing agent, not me), we can’t just intellectually assent to the idea of it. Real faith involves action. So in trusting him to cause me, I step out expecting him to do so. In other words, I go about my day knowing that he is my love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, humility, and even my faith, and in any temptation moment he is there, available to me – his riches of virtue ready for any situation. Now, if I forget that, and think “I” have to be loving, joyful, peaceful, etc., I fail miserably, for the human vessel is not the Wine; the branch is not the Vine
Nowhere do I say that all we must do is intellectually assent to an idea that Christ lives in us. Everywhere on my site I say we’re to faithe – not merely “believe” in our English sense, but faithe – an active verb in Greek. There is an inner choice we make to faithe; then there is the action of faith (for if we faithe, we step out in faith expecting the needed supply), and the enduring attitude of faith. If I’m tempted to impatience, I faithe that he is my indwelling Patience, right here, right now. Then I step out in the action of faith.
This faithing/relying/abiding life is the only way I have found to really overcome anything in my life. When I am abiding, the Spirit takes up all the slack in the line; he fills all the rough places and makes them smooth. But when I go back to “my effort” (even “with God’s help”), thinking of myself as an independent self who must be good like Christ by striving and trying, that’s when I go back into Romans 7 temporarily. And I refuse to live there anymore on any long-term basis.