Jumpin' for Jesus
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. (Romans 1:16-17)
Many people have probably heard the expression "Leap of Faith" although most don't really know where it comes from. No matter, because I'm going to make up my own story about it anyway.
Imagine you are standing on the edge of a cliff with a forest fire burning somewhere behind you. Down at the bottom of the cliff some guy has set up a net and is yelling at you, "JUMP!" You could be standing there thinking, well if I have to I could jump, but I think I'll wait a bit. The forest fire might burn out, or I might see another way down and then I won't have to risk the jump. Just believing you could jump because there is a net is not faith.
You could be thinking that you might as well jump because if you don't the fire will get you. Better to take a chance on the net. It might not work, but either way you're dead.
Or, maybe you are someone who needs some assurance. You ask the man to see the specifications for the net. What type of material is it made from? How much weight will it hold ? Is the manufacturer ISO 9000 certified? But with all your questions answered, you still need faith. The man might be lying to you. Maybe he thinks the net might hold or might not, but you're better off jumping anyway. You could grab a boulder and throw it off into the net to make sure. But, maybe the net will only hold once and when you jump it might fail. So knowledge alone isn't enough; you still need to trust the man who set up the net.
Well, maybe you could rig up a rope of some kind or make an emergency parachute. That way, you have alternatives. If on the way down you change your mind, you’ve got something to fall back on. That's not good. If you try and stop half way down, you might get tangled up in the rope and be left stranded there half way down. Besides, what are you going to climb back up to? Or, you could open your emergency parachute only to get caught in a gust of wind and slammed right into the cliff you just jumped from. You still need trust in that net no matter what.
And anyway, what difference does it make unless you actually jump? Believing the net will hold you, whether blindly, because of knowledge, or some other plan to rely on doesn't get you off the cliff. There comes a time when you have to actually jump. It doesn't matter how you get off the cliff or what you look like on the way down. If you stumble off and go flying through the air with arms and legs flailing screaming at the top of your lungs, you still got off the cliff. Likewise it doesn't matter whether you close your eyes and step off timidly or take a big running start, go off in a perfect swan dive and do a backward somersault with a one-and-a-half twist on the way down. How you look going over that cliff isn't important at all.
Faith is not the belief you have, the knowledge you have, the plans you made or the way you go at it. Faith is one thing and one thing only. Faith is having nothing left to do, nothing to hold on to, no concern about what's happening back up on the cliff, what you look like on the way down or what will happen after you land in the net. The life of faith is when you are flying through the air with nothin' but net between you and the ground. The only way you get faith is to trust the net and have the courage to jump.
Here's something else about faith: Once you are safely on the ground there's no faith left. Faith is only when you are in the air. The faith that saw you through today's crisis will do nothing for you tomorrow. If you want increased faith you have to go over higher and higher cliffs. It does get easier after a while. When challenges come then we can have more faith. So, the life of faith is really one jump after another, then another, then another, right up to the very end.
This is a good analogy. So, I'm thinking maybe I could start a new revival movement called "Jumpers for Jesus." We could have bumper stickers, official caps, nice T-shirts with JUMP! on the back and a silk-screened image of a guy doing a swan-dive over a cliff. We could hold weekend retreats in the desert and carry all our gear in official-logo gym bags so that everyone would know we had lots of faith.
Then again, maybe not. All of that has absolutely nothing to do with faith. Faith is a one-man sport. It doesn't matter how organized or disorganized it is, or, how many people are out there jumping with you. Your own personal jump is the only thing that matters. Are you going to wait there on the cliff thinking about it, looking for another way out, worrying about everybody else jumping or criticizing their form, looking for a group to jump with, analyzing the mechanism of salvation, calculating the end-times, making plans and generally looking like an idiot while the fire gets closer and closer? Or are you going to jump?
Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8)