Confidence

We can have confidence as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ to live to the full the new life which He has given us by His grace. Confidence can be many things – when I looked it up in the dictionary I found this definition: “a state of being certain either that a hypothesis or prediction is correct or that a chosen course of action is the best or most effective.” That sounded pretty loose to me, especially when we are dealing with a concept that demands certainly in its thinking. So I went to the etymology of the word (its root meaning). Here I found that it comes from the Latin words meaning “with” (con) “faith” (fidere). Having faith in something; being certain of something. The question now is: what is the “something”?

Paul says that he could put his faith in many things – the flesh (his cultural background), the law (his training and education), his zeal (his enthusiasm to put his culture and education into practice), and his solid observance of his culture and education. But then he says that he counts all these things as rubbish because he has found a new confidence through his faith in Christ. “En Christos” is a concept which crops up all over the place in Paul’s writing – it is a deep idea. It means not only that he puts his faith in Christ, but that he finds himself in Christ. He has no meaning or purpose outside of Christ. His confidence is only in Christ!

And when you look at this man’s life you will find that there was a time when he put his trust in everything EXCEPT Christ. What happened? It was on the road to Damascus that he was confronted by the resurrected Jesus and in a flash, he realized that his faith was absolutely worthless and misdirected. Everything which he had not believed about Jesus was true and everything which he had believed was wrong. It was an epiphany moment – and in moments like these God doesn’t give us much time to ponder the options, or to intellectualize the consequences. That is that! And Paul took off on a journey which totally changed the course of his life and the world.

And Paul has not been a lone star. The course of faith history is filled with people who, when confronted with the challenge as to where their confidence lies, made a dramatic turnaround and profoundly influenced the course of history. And few of them were great people to begin with – Augustine was a drunken loser, Martin Luther a lowly monk, DL Moody a shoe saleman, John Wimber a has-been musician with a drug problem.

Where does your confidence lie? Does God-with-us, and the Cross, and the Resurrection make any real difference to your life? Do you really love God with all your heart and soul and spirit? (I sometimes have real troubles with that, and need to sit with the Lord from time to time to get my priorities right.) Do you love your neighbour as you love yourself? Whoa – that’s a hard one! I can do it in my mind but struggle when I find that my neighbour is the proverbial Samaritan ie someone of the wrong culture, race and religion (meaning, of course, not mine!).

If Jesus is God, and if the Bible is the account of how God has been loving us all along so that we can be friends again; and if He has done so much (even dying for me!) so that I can have a truly meaningful and purposeful life, then the “something” in which I put my confidence has to be Him.

Amen!



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