Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Weak Faith, Strong Faith

"As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat everything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand." (Romans 14:1-4)

A blog post I read last month prompted me to think about this passage especially as it applies to our decisions about educating our kids. The writer pointed out, as I have been taught before but so easily forget, that it is the person with weak faith who restricts himself and keeps rigid boundaries/limits, while the person with strong faith has broader space to run. We often (or at least I do) think of the stronger, more serious Christians having stronger convictions. After all, abiding by stricter rules indicates that you're pursuing holiness more diligently, right? But that's not what Romans 14 indicates. 

As I pondered the difference between "strong" and "weak" faith, I remembered a conversation I had with a dear friend last spring, one I've revisited countless times since. I was fresh off reading Doug Wilson's "classical private Christian education is THE only godly way to educate your children, maybe homeschooling, but whatever you do you can't be a faithful Christian and send your kids to public school" book. In the midst of that, I'd had a conversation with some good friends of ours about their very deliberate and thoughtful decision to place their children in public schools in a less-than-stellar district. 

I was feeling overwhelmed and discouraged as I listened to all the arguments and examined our options for educating our boys. I lamented to my friend that all I could see were the drawbacks to each option; it seemed like a choice between the lesser of the evils. "There are no good options!" I blurted to her. 

That's when my sweet friend gently admonished me. She pointed out that just the opposite is true: If I believe that God is sovereign (and I do!), if I believe that He is loving, that He is FOR me, that He works ALL things for good, that He is good and does good--then *any* of the options can be a good option. He is present and will go with us in all of them! If we are truly seeking Him, desiring to honor and obey Him, He will guide our decision and then use whatever we choose for His glory and our good. 

So I come to Romans 14, and I see that it is a weak faith which believes that God can work in only THIS way. I have to have all my ducks in a row; I have to follow the right guidelines and stay within strict limits, and if I do everything just right and make the proper decisions, then God will bless that and produce favorable outcomes. 

Is God so impotent? Is His arm so short?

The person with strong faith, on the other hand, says, "My God is BIG!" I absolutely must seek Him and strive to walk in wisdom and obedience. Yet He is not limited by my circumstances or even hindered by my mistakes! The outcomes depend a whole lot less on my making perfect decisions and a whole lot more on the faithfulness and sovereignty of my God. 

Lord, give me a strong faith that believes I will be upheld and You will prove faithful in all circumstances. And give me patience and love, rather than judgment or disdain, for those whose decisions about walking in wisdom look different from my own conclusions!

Coexist (Grasping for Objectivity)


faith ann raider said...

Amy, I LOVE this post. I agree with where you are going and I have seen this to be true in my own life. I love watching God lead you and I am confident that He will show himself mighty in your life.

Danielle said...

I love your thoughts here and how you relate the weak/strong faith to your struggle with schooling options. So good! We have to be so careful in making the schooling debate such moral issue. Moral issues are involved, but not always in the way it seems, as in once choice is "right" and one is "wrong" per se.

As someone who has chosen classical home education for our children at this point, I obviously think it's best for our family. It's not the best for all families though. I have no idea where this journey will take me. But interestingly, I'm choosing homeschool primarily for it's educational/scholastic merits, not moral ones (and I LOVED being homeschooled and hope my kids will too). And I see it has the broader path that will allow many opportunities and experiences. Not as a way to build a fence around them.

Danielle said...

Another thought, I think we probably all go through seasons as a Christians where we may have our convictions change due to the strength of our faith.

For instance, when I was in college I pretty much never drank alcohol. That had to due to being in college and and a college student and all that goes with that and wanting to be a light in that area. Now, I'm strong enough in my faith to feel the liberty to drink with no desire to sin in that area or feel tempted. A class of wine or mixed drink is fine for me now, although it wasn't in the past. I think that my faith grew, thus allowing me "loosen" that fence around myself that once protected me.

Zoanna said...

Good thoughts here, Amy. I agree.
And I personally have had it UP TO HERE with Doug Wilson. His arrogance is repulsive. Presenting the "best" way as the "only' way is so divisive. God gave us 10 Commandments. Why do people want to add more? I was arrogant about homeschooling once myself. I had said that my child would not go to our church school. I said "over my dead body." Then 3/4 ended up there for 1 year or 2. I burnt out of homeschooling and also realized that it's not particularly a good choice for an only child, esp an only boy. He needs competition and male bonding. I am still not sure there are too many Christian kids who can stand up in public school and be strong. Maybe high school after they're inculcated with Biblical truth. But I am not gonna say "absolutely it's wrong" because who am I to question what another mom and dad have decided is best for their child?