We go to the doctor yearly for a checkup to see if we’re okay. There may be some adjustments we need to make. Spiritually, we must also get a yearly checkup. Zig Ziglar has said, some of us need “to check up from the neck up”. If we are willing, God can heal lukewarm faith, and cause a new fire to burn inside of us, with enthusiasm, and excitement for our spirituality.
According to an ancient story, there were once four people who were walking in the woods. They were all complaining about their lot in life. “Woe is me,” one said. Another said, “Don’t tell me that, you don’t know my problems. My lot in life is terrible.”
All of a sudden, as they were walking in the woods, they came across a high wall. They were very curious because they could not see over the wall, so they built a ladder. The first person climbed up and was amazed at the incredible beauty in this other world, on the other side of the wall. Then he climbed down and the second one climbed up and he was also amazed at the beauty.
Everything they had ever prayed for in their lives was on the other side of the wall. The third person climbed up and said the same thing. The first, the second, and the third thought it was nice, and yet they climbed back down the ladder and returned to their usual lot in life, complaining all the way. The fourth climbed up the ladder, stood at the top, and said, “I want a better life and there is a better life; and I am going to go over the wall and accept it and make a commitment to it.” He did so and lived in the other world happily forever.
I am going to ask you a very serious question. Is your life working for you?
Halford Luccock, a noted scholar, noticed a significant correlation between physical and spiritual immunity. In medicine, a person can develop immunity against a disease by receiving a very mild dose of that disease.
The same thing can be experienced by the soul. If a person receives nothing more than a small dose of God, he or she may develop an immunity against the evil that exists in the world but not all encompassing passion for God.
Leslie Weatherhead affirmed this concern when he said, “The trouble with some of us is that we have been inoculated with small doses of Christianity which keep us from catching the real thing.”
Have you caught the real thing?
When you think about who you are, do you most often think about your own personality and characteristics? True, they are a part of you, but there is something much greater in you. Because you are a spiritual being, you are more than flesh and blood and human eyes. You are spiritual. When you truly see yourself, you will see yourself as an expression of God. You will allow your spiritual nature to show in everything you do.
One time, Paul was in Athens. He was very upset about what he saw there. “Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So he argued in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the market place every day with those who chanced to be there.
“So Paul, standing in the middle of the Areopagus, said: ‘Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, `To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, nor is God served by human hands, as though God needed anything, since God gives to all humans life and breath and everything. And God made from one every nation of humans to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after God and find God. Yet God is not far from each one of us, for `In God we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your poets have said, `For we are indeed God’s offspring.’ Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the Deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, a representation by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now God commands all people everywhere to repent. . . .” (Acts 17:16-17, 22-30)
God commands people everywhere to change, rise up, and start thinking about God. Let me ask a few questions for you to think about.
Can you put your belief into words? It is not difficult to profess faith in God, especially here in this laboratory of faith. But what kind of God do you believe in during the secret times? How would you explain your idea of God to someone else from a laboratory of another faith? Ask yourself whether you can put your profession of faith into words. What spiritual principles do you live by, work by, and stand by?
Then there are questions regarding your belief about life after death. Do
you believe in heaven? Do you believe you will be reunited with those you
love, after death?
As a Christian, what do you believe about the person and mission of
Christ? What about His miraculous birth and His miracles? His death? His
It has not been proved that a vital religion must be articulate, and it is a well known fact that faith to some individuals is so precious they are reluctant to talk about it. But for your own personal test, I ask you to think about why. Why do you believe this particular way?
Do you live as though what you believe is true? It’s one thing to profess a faith and quite another to practice it. You need to ask yourself how much of your faith is just a mere verbalization of the use of terms out of which a lot of meaning has gone.
If you read about Jesus Christ carefully, you will see, over and over again, He said to people, “Think.” He said this about the Lord’s Prayer. He said not to just talk about it, but to think about it. What does it mean to you?
William James once suggested that the average religious believer had a religion made for him by others, communicated to him by tradition, determined to fixed forms by imitation and retained by habit. Does that describe you?
It is so important that your faith, to be alive, has to be alive in you. It has to be an individual, personal practice. Finding God ourselves, in the depths of ourselves.
A high school principal, Max Keller, challenges his students to take initiative in opening doors to opportunities. He says, “You’ll never get anywhere if you stand around waiting for someone to hand you the remote control.” In the same way, we cannot live our faith by remote control.
Does your faith meet your need in times of crisis? It is easy to be helpful and optimistic when we are riding the crest. The faith that matters is the kind that sees a person through bad breaks and guides the person through the valleys.
When you try to rate your faith, ask yourself whether it is stable …. in times of triumph and tragedy.
Do you have special stated times for spiritual development? While faith cannot be put into boxes and while religion should not be restricted to certain areas or special hours, people of great faith have always set aside stated times for meditation, prayer, and spiritual exercise.
A priest was once asked for the secret of success of Fulton Sheen. He said, “His strength and influence are generated in silence.” Martin Luther had this famous saying, “If I have six hours of work to do, I spent two of the hours in prayer.” Why should we? So we can listen to the voice of our master.
A friend of mine has a golden retriever, as do I; but Bentley is trained to only come
if my friend calls him. You could go out into my friend’s yard and scream at the top of your lungs and Bentley would just turn around, get that stupid smile on his face, and go where he was planning to go in the beginning. But if my friend goes out and says, even in a low voice, “Come, front,” Bentley will come, even from a long distance. Why doesn’t Bentley come when others call?
Jesus gave us the answer. In His story, the sheep return because they know
the voice of their Master. I discovered it is also true with Bentley. It seems to me that Bentley has some wisdom to offer. Do we listen to the voice of our Master, or do we heed other voices? Other voices of worry, fear, and disaster outside of us will never be God’s voice.
We cannot remake our lives the way we remodel our homes. We cannot call in an expert to draw up plans and then engage someone else to do the work for us. Nor can we move out while this process is going on and then come back when it is finished. We may get suggestions and advice, but we must do the job ourselves. To do it we must set aside special times for the doing by communing with God.
Is your home life better because of your religious faith? Someone once said when a person gets religion, even his dog and cat ought to see the improvement. Religious profession should build a happier life. You can rate your faith by asking yourself: “Does my attitude in my home contribute to an atmosphere of affection, mutual respect, and
cheerfulness? Do I properly reflect the deep convictions of the faith that is mine?”
Does your faith give you a sense of companionship, even in times of solitude? A common criticism leveled at Americans is that as a group we are afraid to be alone. We are told we do not want to know ourselves or analyze ourselves. We are accused of looking for continual means of escape. How about spending time in solitude with God? True faith should provide a feeling of spiritual consciousness. That is to say, our religion should give us a sense of oneness with our Creator. How do you rate in this respect? A person is never less alone than when he or she is with God.
Does your faith give you a new outlook on your job and a new approach to your work? There is an old saying, “Work is worship.” It is a true corollary of faith. Of what use is your religion in the work-day world if it does not provide a usable philosophy for you when you are on the job?
You can get an appraisal of the vitality of your faith by the way in which you find your place in the world. How do you fit yourself in that place? How do you devote yourself to it?
reminds me of the story of a simple-hearted, hardworking nun. She was observed, many years ago, while on a retreat. As the many guests finished eating and piled up the dishes to be washed, the lone nun stood quietly with her arms elbow-deep in sudsy water and listened to a troubled woman pour out her woes. The sister listened intently while methodically washing plate after plate. I marveled at her patience and acceptance of such an unending, thankless chore. I asked her, “How do you do it, day after day, washing all those dishes alone, and still having the patience to listen?”
She looked at me and smiled. She said, “I just imagine that I am dipping my hands in the pool of Bethesda.” By focusing her attention on stirring up God’s healing waters, she did her daily chores with serenity, cultivated a listening ear, and offered restorative care to those she encountered.
Does your faith give you a sense of security in meeting life? A well-known story about the early career of John Wesley tells of his fear during a storm. He was on board a ship and he was terrified with fright. As he shook, he heard a group of Christians singing. They were praising God.
Wesley asked them, “How in the world, in a storm like this where we might
all perish, can you sing?” They said to him, “If your faith cannot serve you during a storm, what is the good of it?”
To estimate whether your faith is just a fair-weather faith, ask yourself how you react to storms whipped up by worry, fear, finances, relationship problems, health challenges, and unexpected emergencies. Does your faith give you a sense of security in meeting life? Every person can kickstart, or increase, his or her faith – if they truly desire to.
Has your faith ever inspired you to do a good deed? One of the most rewarding acts is to give without a thought of getting help in return.
A clerk in a supermarket tells this story. She glanced down the long line waiting at the cash register she was operating at the supermarket. She said, “Dear God, help me to be more like you.” She prayed and thought about the message at church and how she was told in every instance to ask herself, “How would Jesus handle this particular problem?”
She scanned a loaf of bread. She said, “That will be $3.09.” There was a
small boy in front of her and he dumped a fistful of change onto the
counter. As he did this, she heard the others in line say, “I thought this
was an express line! Wouldn’t you know I always get in the wrong line?
Wouldn’t you know there would be some kid who would ruin my day?”
Another said, “It will take her all day to count that kid’s money.” She
counted every one of the pennies and he was short 28 cents. She gave him
an uneasy look and his cheeks turned pink. Then she asked herself, “What
would Jesus do?”
Quickly, she picked up the receipt and scribbled on it, “I owe this
register 28 cents.” She slipped it into the register along with the boy’s
coins. She pressed a paid sticker on the bread and handed it to him. His
eyes brightened and he said, “Thank you, ma’am.”
The disgruntled complaints of the waiting customers no longer made her
nervous because they noticed what she had done, and it had changed their
She said, “My heart felt light. It didn’t just last that minute; it lasted
the whole day. I had a faith I took with me to work and I had been
successful in emulating Jesus on one small occasion.” She was able to do
it all that day.
The finger of God never leaves identical fingerprints. You are the finger
of God in every situation.
Does your faith command your deepest loyalties? In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous short story, “The Face of the Mountain,” a young boy stares at a face carved in granite and regularly asks tourists in town if they know the identity of the face on the mountain. No one does. Into manhood, midlife, and old age, he continues to gaze on the face at every opportunity, until one day, a tourist passing through exclaims to the once-young boy who is now a weather-beaten old man, “You are the face on the mountain!”
Meister Eckhart, said, “The eye with which I see God is the same eye with
which He sees me.” It means our highest loyalty should be our recognition
of our oneness with God.
With which eye do we see ourselves? Which closeness do we wish to stay near? It is all very well to say that we want God to command our highest loyalties no matter where they lead, but how do we react when they do not lead us where we think we ought to go? How deep are our deepest loyalties?
Is your world different because of your faith? How many cares one leaves behind when one decides not to be something, but to be someone. If religion does not change our world, it very likely has not changed us very much. When we walk through life with faith, when we have what is commonly called a consciousness of the presence of God, our outlook on all life is deepened and refined.
We need to look at things in a new way. If we profess faith in the creative power of God, we should see all life as God’s life, all scenes as God’s scenes.
I have spoken about testing our faith, about living our faith in a new FULL way every moment of the day and night. It is my prayer that we, in this laboratory of faith, never put down another’s faith, but join together to test our own personal faith. We join together to know God. Each person might see God slightly differently. We each have an experience and know why we believe and what we believe. It is the only way God will ever be truly real to you and me. It is my prayer that God is real to you, discovered by you, and your life is in close association with Him, daily, for the rest of your life.
“For we are what God has made us.” Ephesians 2:10
Let us pray.
In this laboratory of faith, I pray there is a new reality in my world. I
pray the ancient legend which says in the city of God, everyone will have
spiritual room to live. I pray that everyone in this household of faith
will have a new reason to worship in complete joy.
God shall be a God to each one, over all. I pray that your faith satisfies
your core spiritual needs at every moment. I pray you make a commitment
to your faith, that you live your religion. That is when your religion
will have new life, and meaning.
I do my best, God, and I leave the rest to You.
In Jesus Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
God bless you!