Andy Stanley - Unshakable
So we've all met someone along the way or maybe heard about somebody, but probably most of us have met somebody along the way, who has what you might consider to be unshakable faith. In fact, you might not even be a religious person and you may not have much faith of your own but you've met somebody along the way, they just have an unshakable faith that no matter what happened, no matter what they were introduced to, no matter what came along, they just had this, never ending flow of confidence that God was in control and God was involved and they just, nothing shook them. It was amazing. And when you meet people like that, you wonder of course, I wonder of course we always wonder I wonder how I would respond if that were to happen to me.
So of course I've known for quite some time that I was gonna talk about this today, but yesterday, morning Sandra and I called a woman and her daughter who just two days ago or three days ago now just went through a terrible terrible situation or a sort of set of circumstances that has changed their life forever. In fact, it's the wife and the mother and the daughter and a son. And I'm not gonna tell you their story. It's too early to tell their story and honestly it's their story to tell. But when we called, we expected extraordinary grief and extraordinary sadness. So we're preparing ourselves and the opposite was so true.
I finally interrupted this amazing woman I said, "I just have to say the tone of your voice and the words that you're saying do not at all match the circumstances that you have just gone through". And she said, what some of you have heard people say, "Yeah well, we're just trusting God through this and we know that God is in control". And I thought to myself, knowing we're gonna talk about this today, well, there it is again. And Sandra got up and I got off the phone, we're in tears.
And again, we were calling folks to encourage them. And we were just honestly, inspired is the only word I can think of. And you've had this experience with people that regardless of what life throws at them, they're just confident. And they're convinced there's more to this life than this life. And they experience suffering and pain and disappointment within the context of knowing that there's a God who knows, there's a God who cares, there's a God who sometimes intervenes and sometimes chooses not to intervene, but their faith is just, it's just unshakable. It's not their amazing beliefs. In fact, you might be able to argue with them about their beliefs, but what you can't deny is that they have amazing, amazing faith. It's active, it's gritty, it's real world. It's in the circumstances of life. It informs their responses and it informs their decisions every single day of their life.
So the question that we're gonna ask and hopefully to answer in this series is this, where does that come from and how do we get it? Where does that come from and how do we get it? That's what this series is all about. And if you're somebody who you feel like you used to have that kind of faith and it slipped away or you feel like maybe you're beginning to lose that faith or maybe once upon a time you had rock solid faith or confidence in God and now you'd say, Andy, I just have read too much. I've heard too much. I've seen too much. And it's just gone.
In fact, the only reason I'm watching this, I'm visiting with family or friends and they're making me sit through this, that used to be your story, for the next few weeks we're gonna talk about where that kinda confidence in God comes from and how in fact we can get it. And perhaps for you this series will explain perhaps what happened to you. So if you're looking for faith, if you're looking to regain faith, if you're looking to strengthen faith, this series is for you, so here we go.
When you follow Jesus through the gospels, when you follow the Jesus through the gospels, you'll discover that there were only two things that amazed Jesus. Wouldn't it be fun to be the one of the two people, in the Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John, or the life of Jesus who actually amazed Jesus or cause him to marvel. The Greek term is sort of, he marveled. The first one we find in Matthew, it's a pretty familiar story. Jesus has gone along with the apostles and a Centurion walks up to Jesus and ask him for a favor. Now Jesus' apostles were not thrilled that Jesus was even talking to a Roman Centurion but the Centurion came to Jesus and said, "I have a servant at home who's sick. Would you heal my servant"? Well, the way that this group thought about God they assumed that God was not in favor of the Romans and certainly wasn't in favor of Centurions and if Jesus really was a man of God, he's not gonna go to the home of the Centurion, contaminate himself, become ceremonially unclean to heal his servant.
So they, I guess they expected Jesus to say no but in fact, Jesus said, sure, and Jesus offers to follow the Centurion home. And the Centurion turns to Jesus and says, "You don't need to do that. You don't need to come home with me. I know how this works. I too like you, Jesus, I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me and the soldiers who are under me do what I ask them to do, not because of me, but because of who I represent. I represent the Roman empire. So they obey me because of who I represent and Jesus, I've been watching you. And I know there's more to you than people think. And I know that you could not do the things you do if you were not under something bigger or something or someone bigger than yourself. So Jesus, I know how this works. 'Cause we have something in common. So if you want to heal my servant, just do what I do. Just issue a command and I believe it will be done".
And when Jesus heard this, when Jesus heard this, the text says, that "He was amazed". Famazdo is the Greek word there. He was amazed. He was astonished. He was impressed, but impressed or astonished by what? Because people asked Jesus for favors all the time that he had just healed a leper but he wasn't amazed when the leper asked him to heal him. Well, fortunately for us, Jesus tells us why he was so amazed. Again, this is only one of two times in all the gospels, he was amazed by anything. And Jesus says out loud for the whole crowd to hear, "Truly I tell you," and this was kind of a dig at most of his followers. "Truly I tell you, I've not found anyone in Israel with such great faith".
That the thing that amazed Jesus most was great faith. Big, bold, active, informed faith. We've all heard of amazing grace. This was amazing faith. But the question is, what made it so amazing and what made it so different than other encounters Jesus had had with other people. And the thing that made it so amazing is that the Centurion put two and two together. He understood who Jesus, he had some understanding of who Jesus was and then because he recognized this is so important. Because he recognized the uniqueness of Jesus, when he recognized the uniqueness of Jesus, he went all in. Essentially he was saying, Jesus, if you choose to do this for me, you don't need to come to my home to do it. And Jesus said, wow, that's what I'm talking about. That's what I'm looking for.
Now fun fact and this may be in contrast to everything you know and experience with religious people or growing up, if you grew up in church, fun fact, Jesus was never, Jesus was never or Jesus never marveled at or Jesus was never amazed at anyone's knowledge or obedience. Jesus never responded to somebody like, wow you are so smart. Or that was such a great insight. Let me write that down. And he was never and this is the real shocker. He was never amazed at anyone's obedience. What he was most amazed at, the thing that got his attention, was someone with extraordinary, extraordinary faith. Faith that wasn't simply in their head, faith that was lived out in the reality of life.
Now the other things Jesus was most amazed with was the opposite of that. The second incident takes place in his hometown. He goes home to visit family and friends in the area that he'd grown up in. And when he gets there, he does some teaching and he actually performed a couple of miracles. And initially the people in his hometown were astonished and amazed and they got a hometown hero. But then a little bit of hometown jealousy began to creep in and they were like, wait a minute, wait a minute wait a minute. Isn't this? I mean, isn't this the carpenter. I mean didn't he grow up around here. I remember when he was a little boy running around, isn't this Mary's son? I mean, Mary's right over here and the brother of James Joseph, Judas and Simon, Jesus had his brothers and aren't his sisters here with this. Jesus had sisters.
Did you know that? So they're like, wait a minute. He's not all that special. I mean, he's from right here and now he thinks he's better than us. And now he thinks he's some kind of big shot and Jesus' response to the hometown crowd was, the text says, and he was here it is again, he was amazed, but this time he's amazed at their lack of faith. So there it is, the two things that most amazed Jesus, great faith and a lack of faith. And here's what we learned when we follow Jesus through the gospels. That his agenda, that Jesus' agenda for his first century followers and for his 21st century followers, was that we would become, they would become people of great faith. Active, in spite of, gonna believe any way faith.
But this is where it gets a little bit confusing. And even for people who grew up in church and those of us who would consider ourselves Christians, is that gets a little confusing for us as well and for people outside our faith, I think it gets really confusing because of the way we talk about faith sometime and this is important. Faith, unlike hope or optimism and we should all be hopeful and we all should be optimistic. Faith, unlike hope or optimism, faith always has an object. Faith always has an object. For example, when you board a jet to go somewhere to travel, you're optimistic that you're gonna get there on time and you're optimistic that you're gonna get there safely and you hope that you're gonna arrive safely and your optimism and your hope is certainly not unfounded but neither your hope nor your optimism is the foundation or the object of your faith, right?
You're not placing your faith and your hope in your optimism. You're placing your faith in, or you're anchoring your faith to the mechanical integrity, right? The mechanical integrity of the jet and the judgment of the pilot. Those two things are the object of your faith. As a result of having something to anchor your faith to, you're optimistic. But your faith and your optimism and your faith, isn't in your hope, you have an object for your faith and here's, what's important. The object of faith, the object of faith is not a particular outcome. In other words, faith, the way that Jesus talked about faith, faith that we find in the New Testament isn't, well I think everything's gonna be fine.
"I just have faith everything's gonna work out. I have faith that everything's gonna be fine". Actually that's just hope and optimism, and that's fine. Jesus was not amazed at, and Jesus was not moved by the optimism and the hope of the Centurion. What amazed him was that this Centurion recognized, that Jesus as an object of his confidence and an object of his faith could do things that otherwise could not and would not be done. So the point, this is so important. The point of Jesus' ministry, the point of Jesus' earthly ministry was that he established himself as the object of faith. And this is why when you read the gospels, and if you grew up in church, you heard this over and over that people were invited to place their faith in, or their confidence in Jesus to trust in him.
In fact, on the night of his arrest, before he was arrested, Jesus had this long, complicated really challenging conversation with his apostles. And they were so upset and they were a little bit confused. Jesus was introducing some new things. It was just disturbing. And so toward the end, he says to his apostles, he says, Hey, don't let your heart. Don't let your hearts be troubled, in other words, I don't want you to worry about all this. You believe in God, don't you? And when he said do you believe in God, he did not mean do you believe that God exists? That's different.
In fact, John who wrote this, who copied this, brings us this, it's so interesting. John created a phrase in Greek that doesn't show up in any other Greek literature before this time which is really phenomenal. And the reason is in the Greek language, there's no word for trust. There's just the word belief or belief or beliefs. And so John is getting at something beyond simply believe that, he's not saying you believe that God exists. So he takes the Greek word verb for belief, and he marries it to the preposition in like I-N in Greek it's epeslonu or en. And this is the first time these two words ever appear together. And it communicates something beyond believe that. It communicates what we say in English as trust in.
And so John says, look, you guys, Jesus says, look you guys, you trust in God don't you? Not believe that God exists. You trust in God, don't you? And they're like, yeah, we trust in God. And then Jesus says this. This was so blasphemous. He says, believe also, just like you believe in God, I want you to believe also in me. Just as you trust in God, I want you to trust me.
In other words, he says, guys, I want to be the object of your faith. I want you to trust me like you trust God and in saying this he has established himself once again as the object of their faith and ours, which is a big deal. But there's something else going on here as well and again, this is so important. We talk about it from time to time but I don't think we can talk about this too much. Something else was going on. Jesus positioned himself as the object of faith. Jesus positioned himself as the object of faith, because in other words, Jesus wanted to be the focus of their faith because while he was on the earth, Jesus came to explain, or to show us what God is really like. He came to reveal the true nature of God.
Now, if we were to do a survey today of everybody watching or listening, or those of us in the building and we were to give a quiz about what is God like, we would probably get all kinds of answers. In fact, one of the reasons that you've been disappointed with God or perhaps quit believing in God is because of your assumptions about God, right? When Jesus showed up, even though he showed up in a religious community, they had many, many many assumptions about what God is like and many of their assumptions in fact, perhaps most of their assumptions about what God is like, we're absolutely wrong. And one of the reasons Jesus came was to reveal and to explain what God is actually like, to correct some of those incorrect assumptions.
In fact, he was so clear about this, that it was offensive to the people who thought, no we know what God is like, we have a box and God's in there and our job is to explain god to everybody else and Jesus kept contradicting the god that they tried keep in the box. And Jesus was clear. If you wanna know what God is like, watch me. If you wanna know what God is like, listen to me. If you wanna know what God is like, follow me. So of course this was extremely offensive, but at the end of his ministry he demonstrated the fact that this is in fact why he came. So he could say to the apostles, you trust in God? Yeah we trust in God. Well, that's a little bit difficult. Anybody seen God? Nope. Trust in me.
So throughout his ministry and this is why you should read the gospels. In fact, if you've lost faith or confidence in God, read the gospel with this question in mind, what do I learn about God, from Jesus? Because Jesus came so we could know what our heavenly father's like and I'll tell you why he did that in just a minute. So they're walking along one day. This is in John chapter nine, again another kind of famous story. The apostles see this blind man, this young man. And of course they think they know what God is like. And the God that they know of is a God that punishes people with illness and sickness. So this young man is blind. So clearly he must have sinned, that's why he's blind. Or maybe he didn't sin. Maybe God is punishing his parents, by allowing their son to be blind so that they would suffer and he wouldn't be able to support the family.
So they say to Jesus, Hey, we know how God works. God punishes people with illness. So tell me, Jesus, tell us Jesus who sinned. I mean, it's just two options who sinned? This blind man, or this blind man's parents. And Jesus says, that's not how it works. That's not what God is like. Your whole life you've grown up thinking that God punishes people with illness. God did not punish this man with illness. He is not blind because somebody sinned. They're thinking but our whole life that's how we thought it worked. Jesus is like, that's why I came. So Jesus is teaching one day. He says, love your neighbor.
They'd all heard that before, a man stands up and says, Oh yeah, I know, love your neighbor I get that but I have a question about loving my neighbor. Which of the Judeans, that live around me do I need to consider a neighbor and actually love? You don't expect me to love all the Judeans. And I assume, God doesn't love everybody. God mostly loves the Judeans, the sons and daughters of Abraham. So which of the sons and daughters of Abraham am I responsible for loving and treating as a neighbor? Because that was what God is like. God can't love everybody equal. God has favorites, right? That's the assumption. And Jesus responds to this question with one of the most famous stories he ever told, the story of the Good Samaritan. And in the story, he does a very brilliant thing. He takes someone that no one in his audience would like, a Samaritan and makes the Samaritan the hero of the story.
This is really a story about racism because neither group liked the other group. And suddenly someone, they just would not have anything to do with is the hero in the story, it was so disruptive and so disturbing. But his point was simply this, God doesn't have favorites. God doesn't have favorites. That a neighbor and then Jesus, this is so amazing. In this moment, and his audience didn't know this was unfolding. In this moment Jesus redefines neighbor for every single person in every single generation from that point forward. He says, "A neighbor is anyone who has a need that you can meet. That's a neighbor". Neighbors aren't the people who look like you or even like you. They're not the people who live like you or even wanna live like you. A neighbor is someone that has a need that you can meet. Jesus says, "Love your neighbor". Those are your neighbors.
And he redefines how God views people. The people who are like us and the people who are nothing like us. And they're like, wow. "You have heard it said," Jesus said, "You have heard it said, love your neighbor and hate your enemy". To which his audience would say, not only have we heard that I mean, that's the way it is because God loves his friends and God loves his people and God hates his enemies. I mean, duh. I mean, if it's good enough for King David who clearly hated his enemies, if it was good enough for King David it's good enough for us, besides Jesus what's the alternative? Jesus says, "Here's the alternative. Here's what God is like. I tell you, like your father in heaven, you are to love your enemies". To which they said, "But wait, God, doesn't love his enemies". To what Jesus would say, "Actually he does".
And later, much later, the apostle Paul would write, "While we were still sinners. While we were enemies of God, God sent his son to die". First they had it all wrong. Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be, here it is. That you may be children of your father in heaven. In other words, if you wanna be like your father in heaven, you have to love your enemies. Why? Because your father in heaven loves your enemies. I mean, this was such a paradigm shift for these first century people who had grown up in a religious environment. But this is why Jesus came. He didn't simply come to pay for our sin. He came to explain what God is like and this is why, this is why, he drew to himself and talked about himself in such a way, that people would see him and accept him as the object of their faith.
So you're telling us that God likes everybody? Yes, Jesus would say. And here's the proof. "Have you noticed"? He said to his audience, "Have you noticed, that he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good"? Have you noticed that when the sun comes up, it comes up for everybody and when the sun goes down, it goes down for everybody. Have you noticed that he sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous? Have you noticed that the rain doesn't stop with the Gentile crops, that it rains on the Judean crops, the Gentile crops, the Samaritan crops and the Galilean crops that when it rains, it rains and when it stops, it stops. Have you not noticed that God extends his grace to everyone?
This was so different. They had God wrong and Jesus showed up to make it clear and to reveal the nature of his father in heaven. And this is why he demanded or asked to be the object of their faith because to trust in him as he presented himself was an invitation to trust in God as God actually is. So here's the moral of the story and it's a little bit disturbing Not original with me. And what I do I try to never, ever be original. If you wanna know what God is like, if you would like to know what God is truly like and if you've been disappointed with God, if you'd like to discover that perhaps your disappointment with God had nothing to do with what God is really like. If you really wanna know what God is like don't begin in Genesis. You begin with Jesus. Because Jesus, isn't simply a chapter in the story.
Jesus is the story. And I'll tell you who understood this better than anybody who ever lived, was the apostle Paul because Paul as most of you know, steps onto the pages of history as someone who thinks that Christians are just a cult. He would refer to it as a Nazarene sect because Jesus was from Nazareth and he decided this needs to go away and it needs to go away quickly, they did not believe Jesus was a Messiah, Son of God, did not believe he rose from the dead. And so he goes about the business of imprisoning Christians and executing Christians and torturing Christians. And he's a Pharisee so he's a really good non-Christian. In fact, he claimed to be the best Pharisee that ever lived, pretty much what, he did not have self-esteem issues, obviously. So the apostle Paul then becomes a Jesus follower and he's an activist. He was an activist when he was against Christianity. He's an activist now as a Jesus follower.
So he was at the epicenter of the transition. He understood better than anyone. He understood better than anyone the relationship between religion, the Jewish religion, pagan religion and this new thing that had happened when Jesus came and declared himself the son of God. He understood it better than anybody. And here's how he summarizes it. This is so important. This is from his letter and we call it the book of Colossians. It's just the letter. And he's talking about all religions. He's talking about pagan religions, even Judaism. He's saying all the customs, all the traditions, all the do's and don'ts all the things that you felt weighted down with as it relates to your religion, whatever your religion is, he says this, these things, all of these things before Jesus, all of these things are a shadow. This is so powerful. "These are all a shadow of the things that were to come".
Now let's think about a shadow for a minute. You can learn a lot about a thing from a shadow but you can't learn everything from its shadow, right? You can learn a lot. You can tell some things by the shadow that's cast but you can't tell everything. And when the shadow caster, shows up, when the thing that cast the shadow shows up, the shadow is a far less consequence. Not because the shadow was incorrect, because the shadow was incomplete. Listen to what Paul says. He says, "The reality, however, is found in Christ". These are all these things that came before. He would say that this is why Jesus' apostles, as much as they were trying to understand God, they had it wrong, because they'd grown up on the shadow. They'd grown up on the reflection.
And Paul says I was the same way. I grew up on the shadow and I did my best to understand what God is like. But when Jesus showed up, Jesus was the shadow caster and it wasn't until Jesus showed up that the reality became something that we could truly understand. This is why, this is why Jesus had so much explaining to do. And this is why his first century audience, and perhaps his 21st century audience has so much unlearning to do. They were raised on the shadow. Some of us were raised on the shadow as well but here's what Jesus said. He said, "Just as you have trusted in God, I want you to trust in me because you will never get a clearer or better understanding of what God is like than me".
He was the perfect. Jesus was the perfect representation. The perfect representation of the father. It's as if he said, if you wanna know what God is like, don't look past me and don't stop short of me because everything before me was pointing to me. And I've come to point you to the father, place your confidence and your trust in me, so you'll know what God is like so that I can point you to the father and to the generations that would come after Jesus, so that as we place our faith and our confidence in God, here's, what's so amazing. And this is why, again, if you're struggling with faith, lost faith, losing your faith, trying to strengthen your faith, you gotta follow Jesus through the gospels. Jesus was saying, "I have come to reveal the father so that when I'm gone, when I'm no longer on the earth and you pray to God, you can approach God as God really is not as you imagine God to be. And I've come to point you to the father and I've come to reveal the father". This is the best part. "Not simply so you'll know more about God, but so you can establish a relationship with God".
This is why, this is why. We should not be surprised that throughout the gospels, Jesus constantly talked about, belief in, trust in, belief in, trust in. Why so much about belief? Here's why. What is the currency of a relationship? In other words if Jesus came to establish a relationship with his first century followers, so they would better understand God, so they can have a relationship with God as God truly is, of course, he talked about faith. Of course, he talked about trust in because what is the currency? What is the currency of a relationship? The currency of relationship is trust. It's not obedience. The currency of a relationship, isn't obedience. The currency of a relationship, isn't fear. The currency of a relationship isn't I will, if you will and if you don't, I won't, the currency of any kind of relationship is trust. And so throughout his ministry, Jesus is inviting people to place their confidence or their trust in him as he reflects who God is.
So that's why when you read the book of Genesis, the beginning of the book of Genesis. Think about this. What was broken in the garden of Eden between God and mankind? What was broken in the garden of Eden, was trust. So again, Jesus says, I want you to view me, to his first century followers. I wanna be the object of your faith. I wanna be the object of your trust. And I want you to trust me when I tell you what God is really like. And then when I go away, when you think about God in heaven, God, your heavenly father, you'll know who God is, what he is like and you can have a relationship with him because you'll know you can trust him. So backing up and putting this all together, here's why this is the setup for where we're going, for the next few weeks. God so loved the world. God, your heavenly father so loved the world, he wanted you to know what he's really like, but God is spirit. So he sent his son into the world. John said, "The word became flesh".
This is so powerful. John who spent three and a half years or three years with Jesus. He's an old man. He's writing his gospel or dictating his gospel. And he's trying to figure out how do I start this? He's like, "The only way I can describe it, is God or the word or the truth or the information that God who is spirit actually became a person and he dwelt with us and he revealed the father to us so that we could have a relationship with God as God truly is". Again, not as we imagine or how we were brought up to believe that God is, that God revealed himself. God revealed himself through Jesus because after all it is difficult to have a relationship with a shadow. You'll never know where you stand with a shadow. And since trust and faith is the currency of an authentic relationship.
Of course, Jesus, Jesus invited people to trust him or to place their faith in him and in doing so, they were trusting in and establishing a relationship with God, their heavenly father. And then here's what we discover throughout the gospels. And here's what you have discovered many of you in your life. And here's what you've discovered in talking to people who have this amazing unshakable faith in God. That God just like you, that God is most honored. Just like you're most honored, God is most honored by our living, active, death defying, in-spite-of trust in him. This is how God is most honored. And this is the way that you're most honored.
Isn't it true that if you have a friend or maybe a son or daughter or husband or wife and the circumstances make it look like you're not trustworthy, but they decide to trust you anyway, because they trust their, you are the object of their confidence and their trust in spite of circumstances, in spite of what somebody else said, in spite of the fact that you were late, in spite of the fact that it didn't happen the way they thought it was gonna happen, it looked like a promise was broken and they just decided, you know what? I trust him. I just trust her. That's not consistent with who I know, that's not consistent with the person I married. That's not consistent with my son. That's not consistent with my mom. I know what you're saying. I know what it looks like, but no, I trust him. Is there anything more honoring than that?
Well in the same way, God, your heavenly father is most honored, is most honored by our living active death defying in spite of trust in him. This is what having a relationship with God actually looks like, because this is what most amazed Jesus is, what he invited people into. And this is how Christian maturity is, we're gonna talk about in the next few weeks. This is how Christian maturity is actually measured. That God our heavenly father wants us to mature to the point that we like some of the people that you know, or heard of and have met that we would mature to the point in our faith, that anytime there's a question, anytime there's a challenge, we would ask this question, okay, that's not what I signed up for, that's certainly a surprise, that didn't go the way I thought it would be. I never thought I would find myself in this situation but what would I do if I was confident God is with me.
What would I do? What would someone who is me do in this circumstance facing this uncertainty, facing this horrible news that has changed my life forever. What would I do if I was absolutely confident that God is or was with me. And when you meet somebody like this, they're amazing aren't they? They're inspiring. They forgive, they love, they show up, they step up, they step out. They don't deny reality but their faith isn't right here, their faith isn't just here, it's here and it's in their hands and it's in their feet and it's in their words and it's in their countenance and it's the way that they respond to life. And this is what Jesus invited his first century followers into and this is what he has invited you into. And it's what he's invited me too as well.
And when we see, when we see that kind of faith, when we see that kind of faith, even if you're not a person of faith, even if you used to be a person of faith and walked away, even if you're not even sure there's a personal God, when you see that kind of faith, isn't it true there's something in you, that wants that kind of faith. And you wonder how they got it, that confidence, that peace, that ability to continue to put one foot in front of the other even though life is nothing like it was a minute ago, an hour ago, days ago, a week ago, a year ago. Well how they got it and how they've maintained it is really what this series is all about. But it's not until we recognize that Jesus came to establish himself as the object of our faith so he could hand off his heavenly father as the object of our faith.
And it's not until we understand that Jesus is the perfect reflection of who God is and who God loves, and what God does and how God views the world. It's not until we understand that, that we're able to take the steps, to create and to embrace, enduring active in spite of, death defying faith. So for the next few weeks we're gonna talk about how we do that. Now, I'm convinced, and I'll tell you why in a second. I'm convinced they're actually five things, five dynamics, not things that you do, this isn't a to do list, that there are five things that grow or blow up a person's faith, blow up in a good way, make it big.
Now there may be seven, there may be 10, there may be 12, but I'm convinced there are at least five and I'll tell you why. About 30 something years ago, maybe 35 years ago, Sandra and I were in a season of our life where we were spending most of our time with high school and middle school students, doing ministry for high school and middle school students. And we wanted to create an environment that actually created enduring faith in these high school and middle school students. In other words, we didn't want them to just have camp faith if you know what I mean.
If you grew up in church, you knew what camp faith is. You go to camp, there's some great speakers. There's some great music at the last night of camp. You rededicate your life and you put your stick in the fire and you nail something up on a cross or then you go get on the phone and confess to your parents all the terrible things you've been doing and they cry and you cry. And then you get on the bus the next day and you go home and things are good for about three days, right? But you just didn't have the tools. You just didn't have what it took to have enduring confidence and faith in God where you live your life dependent on God. So we just didn't wanna keep doing that. And so we began to ask, we wanted this generation of students to have an enduring. And we talk about this all the time here, an enduring faith of their own.
So formally and informally, we began to explore and ask the question, what creates that kind of faith? What are the common denominators among men and women and students who have enduring faith, who can go through just about seemingly anything and maintain confidence in God? Basically we were asking the question, what fuels or facilitates the development of enduring faith? Faith that goes to distance from childhood all the way through adulthood. We were asking, what are the essential ingredients so to speak? What are the essential ingredients that when stirred together result in enduring confidence in God. And again, we would ask people to tell their stories and every time we would hear a faith journey story, these five things showed up every single time. And again, straight out of the teaching and the life of Jesus.
So we began to refer to these things as the five faith catalysts. The five things that blow up, or grow up a person's faith. And the reason this is so important, regardless of how old you are, regardless of what season of life you're in, an active faith in God, an active faith in God, actually looks different in every season of life. That's why what we discovered has been so powerful and has made such a difference in my personal life and in the lives of so many people. I mean, for example, teenage faith, what is teenage faith challenged by? When my parents got divorced, back and forth between homes, I'm dealing with peer pressure, I'm dealing with temptations I'm dealing with the stuff teenagers.
Well, these five things created during faith in those years. University students are, face a different kinda challenge to their faith in terms of intellectual challenge, living alone or living away from home for the first time. Married faith what kind of, how are the challenges, think about the challenges of marriage and how they begin to challenge our faith and what we can trust God for. Having kids, I mean, that does something to our faith, doesn't it? It blows it up and then we begin to wonder, right? Or perhaps the struggle to have children, faith. And perhaps that's your story. And you know, what a hit your faith took when you realize that it's gonna be a struggle, or you may not even be able to have kids, losing a child faith, losing a marriage faith, losing a husband or a wife.
Every season of life, every stage of life to have enduring faith, these five components come into play. That's why we decided to build our whole organization really around what we would call eventually these five faith catalysts. So these are important every season of life and in this season, what we're gonna do in this series rather, we're gonna take a deep dive into each of these and we'll begin that next time. But before we wrap up, I just wanna emphasize why this is super, super important and why I wanna encourage you to be a part of this entire series. If you feel like in this season, you've begun to lose faith or perhaps somewhere in the past, you just lost faith, this series may explain why. And this series is gonna give you some handles to begin rebuilding and re-establishing your confidence or your faith in God.
And my experience is this and this is just my experience, not scientific. I've never met anyone. I've never met anyone who lost faith, who acts, this is interesting, who actually lost faith because of something that had anything to do with Jesus. I've met people who lost faith because they had some crazy view of God that they inherited or somebody told them about or it was kind of a mix and match of a whole lot of different things. I've met people who've lost faith because of tragedy. I've met people who've lost faith because of something they read or something they heard in school. But I've never met and I'm sure they're out there. I've just never met them and I've listened to, read books and articles and rants and blogs and podcasts of people who've lost faith.
I've never heard the story of a person who lost faith or gave up faith because of something that had to do with Jesus. And that's why, what I said earlier is so important. That Jesus has invited him, has invited us, to view him and his view of our heavenly father as the foundation of and the thing that is central to our faith. And it's understanding that that anchors us, to the God that really exists and allows us to anchor our faith to something that really does endure.
So for the next few weeks, if you're looking to strengthen your faith, maybe you're looking to restart faith, maybe you have a friend that needs to regain faith. We're gonna give you some handles. And perhaps in the next few weeks, you'll have a greater understanding of what happened to your faith to begin with. And hopefully throughout this series, you will gain a greater understanding of how to rebuild, perhaps what you lost in the past. So next week, we're gonna jump into this first, sometimes we call these faith catalysts, these catalysts that blow up and grow up our faith. Next week, we're gonna look at the first faith catalyst. So I hope you'll be here next week or tune in next week. And I hope you'll be here for this entire series.