I grew up in a family of faith. I attended Sunday school, Pioneer Girls, youth group and church summer camp. I even graduated from Bible college. You’d think those years of learning Bible verses and stories and attending prayer meetings would have trained me to trust God no matter what and to live a life of instant and complete obedience. Unfortunately, my “Sunday school theology” hasn’t always passed faith tests with flying colors.
Neither did Martha’s (John 11:26,27,39). She notified Jesus when her brother, Lazarus, was deathly ill. “Come quick, please! We need Your help!” Sadly, Lazarus died and was buried in a tomb before Jesus responded.
When Jesus finally arrives, He says to grief-stricken Martha, “Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”
“Yes, Lord,” she says. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.” There’s her Sunday school theology. Yes, I believe.
Then comes the test. “Roll the stone away,” says Jesus.
Martha’s Sunday school theology fails her: “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible!”
Dear, dear Martha. Gotta love that woman’s humanity. Yes, I believe You’re the Messiah, but…
That scene was an emotional one for Jesus. Scripture says He felt anger, He was deeply troubled, He wept, and He felt angry again (vv. 33, 35, 38). My hunch is that Martha and her friends’ unbelief triggered those emotions. Why, after knowing Jesus as a good friend and witnessing His power in so many ways, were Martha and the others not able to connect the dots between their beliefs and real life?
I don’t want to be too harsh on Martha because I’ve done the same thing. Currently I’m writing the proposal for a 12-week Bible study. I believe this is a God-given assignment, but the fear of inadequacy rears its head daily. Yes, I believe He’s God Almighty for whom nothing is impossible, but the work is daunting. What if I fail?
There’s no biblical basis for such logic. It stems from my own fears and insecurities, and it must grieve my Lord deeply to see the disconnect between faith and real life. If He’s called me to do this work, then failure isn’t on His radar. Why, then, do I doubt and fear?
How about you? What do you believe to be true about God? How has your faith impacted your life when He’s asked you to do something beyond your own ability? Take a few minutes to answer these questions. Feel free to share from your heart. I’d love to hear from fellow so-journers.
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