Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A Sad Result Of Potentially Misplaced Faith

I grieve with the family of Linda Long, who recently lost her life in a snake-handling episode. That was someone's daughter, and perhaps wife and mother. Beyond sad. Only 48. [deep sigh!].

Aware, and fearful, of being perceived as inappropriate or at least untimely, I must ask the question, "Why?" Why did Linda Long die? No doubt she was aware of--and operating on the basis of--Mark 16:17-18. No doubt Linda's question to me would be, "If you believe the Bible, then why don't you prove your 'belief' by picking up a serpent too?" Fair question. My trembling response? The object of my faith is not my faith. The object of my faith is Jesus Christ.

I do not believe that if I only had more faith then I would pick up snakes too (or be richer, or healthier, or more influential, or any other aspect of the "faith gospel"). Keep in mind that In those four categories Jesus Himself only batted .500! (He had far-reaching influence, and probably good health, but snakes? And riches? [Jesus did actually handle one serpent!])

That is not to suggest that the object of Linda's faith wasn't Jesus. Nor is to even slightly insinuate that Linda is not now with the Lord. My hope is just the opposite.

Linda surely would have taken to task the notion that the "longer ending" of Mark wasn't part of Mark's original text. She would not have agreed with Greek scholar Daniel Wallace who noted:
Double brackets have been placed around this passage to indicate that most likely it was not part of the original text of the Gospel of Mark. In spite of this, the passage has an important role in the history of the transmission of the text, so it has been included in the translation.
That's a debate for another time.

My point is that snake-handling, tongues-speaking, deadly-poison-drinking-without-dying, healing-producing-hand-laying, and all the rest might all examples of evidences of genuine faith--but they are not necessarily so. At best they are only evidences. The crux of the matter is the object of our faith, not merely its evidences. Indeed, faith without fruit is no faith at all (James 2:17-24). But what may look like fruits of faith without the proper Object of faith is no better (Matthew 7:21-23).

The most important thing in all the world (let me restate, THE most important thing in all the world!) is do you and I rely completely, fully, without reservation or hesitation, wholly upon Jesus Christ alone for favor with God? The object, or resting place, of our faith must not be our faith, or the evidences of our faith, but Jesus--and Jesus only!

"Jordan, If you only believed, then you would be able to handle serpents too," is an accusation I can feel coming in the comments section of this post from the Linda Long types. With all due respect, save your time. I'm less concerned with the outward manifestions of my faith, than with the outward object of my faith. My faith, praise the Lord, is not in me, my actions, the bigness of my faith, or my ability to articulate the point that I'm now trying to make. I'm quite convinced that my faith is not all that big anyway.

But praise be to God that the little speck of faith He has placed within me rests squarely on His faithful Son! Jesus has handeled my Serpent's head with His heel! Hallelujah what a Savior! Trust Jesus. Bear fruit. Don't trust in fruit!

No comments: