People-based faith or God-based faith?
We see it in Christian fiction all the time: the hero or heroine whose faith is tied up in whether or not another character responds appropriately (according to our desire) to God. We see it in our fiction because it resonates with readers (and editors) as a familiar situation, faith that is based on the response (or lack thereof) to God by a friend, relative, or loved one.
It's kind of an unspoken challenge. If you believe "good enough" then your loved ones, those you minister to, ought to respond, right? If they don't, is it because we didn't love them enough? Did we fail in our representation of God? Are we lousy ambassadors? No.
What we seem to have forgotten is that scary topic called "free will."
Think about it: the Apostle Paul repeatedly talked about his passion for Israel to be saved, converted to belief in Christ. Few would dare to question Paul's faith, or his prayer life, or his holiness, but Paul did not see the fruition of his passion in his lifetime. His commitment, dedication, and perseverance to Christ are not called into question when we look at the nation he was so hungry to reach with the Gospel. But we often call our own faith into question when our spouses, children, relatives, co-workers, church family, or neighbors don't respond to our invitations, sermons, and exhortations.
I have a dear friend who is well aware of my faith in Christ. She has read all the "Left Behind" books and experienced a number of life-or-death situations. But has she placed her trust in Christ? Not that I'm aware of. You see, it's not a matter of her simply "having heard," it's a matter of her choosing to believe in Jesus as her personal savior. That is something I can't do for her. I can't coerce, manipulate, intimidate, or otherwise provoke her into believing. What does that mean? It means my personal relationship with God is outside whether said individual responds to the message of Christ.
Yet how many of us are basing, or at least weighing, the value of our personal faith in God on someone else's response to God or experience with Him?
Are we taking Him at His word in light of so-and-so's response/experience, or are we simply taking Him at His word personally and unconditionally? Are you willing to continue to love someone you've witnessed to who has (to your knowledge) rejected the Gospel? Are you willing to continue to display God's love to someone who has not, for all intents and purposes, responded the way you expected him/her to? Has your personal faith been affected by the response or reaction of those you love? How have you dealt with it?
About the Author: Niki Turner writes fiction, blog posts, articles in the local newspaper, grocery lists, and Facebook status updates. She can be found at her own blog, In Truer Ink, in addition to posting here. She was a 2009 finalist in the Faith, Hope, and Love "Touched by Love" contest.