Discipleship

Tests and Faith

Are you someone that likes tests?

People respond to tests very differently. Some people thrive on the pressure (whether the pressure is perceived or real). Some people crumble. Others focus less on the fact that something is a test, and just consider whatever is before them, the next task to be completed.

But what is true for all of us is that we all face tests. Every day.

Of course, the tests that we face change over the course of our lives. In grade school, we have tests in subjects such as math and spelling. As we grow a little older, more specific studies are added, and thus, more tests are added.

As we move towards adulthood, we face tests about whether or not we can get a job, keep a job, advance in a job, etc. And then, later in life, we face a test of what to do with our time – which has largely been structured for us (by school and work) as we move from working constantly to part-time or retiring, for those who are able.

But beyond those tests, we face tests from the very outset of our lives as they relate to relationships.

We concern ourselves with who likes us and who does not. Therefore, we ask questions of how to make certain people like us or what we can do to avoid those who either do not like us or what we do not like.

Those questions are a form of tests. For instance, in high school when we want that certain person to notice us, and then they do, we feel happy. Why? We have passed a test. If they reject us, we may feel sad or angry. Why? We have failed the test.

In either case, we have created the test…but we still seek to pass it.

As I mentioned last week, we often compare our faith with others. But the reality is that we all fail our tests with God. Some people may seem to pass more than others, but the Bible clearly says that “all have sinned” which, in essence, is to say we all fail the test.

What tests do we find in the Bible?

Well, most every test in the Bible has something to do with relationships – our relationship to God, to ourselves, or to others.

These tests are not often presented as questions; rather, they are given as commands. Of course, we have the Ten Commandments, but the Bible provides hundreds, even thousands, of tests (although they do break down to a few particular themes, and that is the heart of what the Ten Commandments reveals).

For instance, the command to not lie prompts the test, have you lied? The command to not have any other gods above the God provides a chance to reflect on all that is important to us and determine if anything stands in our way between us and God.

So, the Bible is filled with tests. It is filled with many examples of those who fail tests. It is filled with one example of someone who passed all the tests.

Of course, that someone is Jesus. And passing the test of knowing Jesus personally as Savior is the only test we need to pass. But Jesus cannot truly be our Savior is He is not our Lord. Yes, we still fail Him daily (I know I do), but I would not know that without the Bible, and particularly much of the New Testament.

If all God cared about was our salvation, then all we would need from the New Testament is the four accounts of the gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John).

But we have Acts to show how the early church responded and expanded.

We have Romans-Jude to know how to live our lives (the tests we must pass).

And we have Revelation to show what will happen at the end of time (and beyond) based upon how we respond to Jesus.

So, whether we like tests or not, we all face them every day. Whether it is a “challenge to get out of bed,” a task that frustrates us (“how does s/he expect me to get this done?), or simply a personal matter like finding a way to make someone like us or finding enough money to go to a movie or on a trip, we all face tests.

But the only test that truly matters is who we believe Jesus (the Living Word) to be. The answer to that question will then impact how we respond to the other tests in the Bible (the Written Word), and particularly those in the New Testament.

Let us never forget though, that Jesus knew we would fail the tests, but loved/loves us enough anyway to take the test for us, and make a way for us to pass, if we simply choose Him as the answer.

I leave you with two sets of questions (tests):

Have you chosen Jesus? If so, how are you doing with the tests throughout the New Testament? (I will look at one specific passage about some tests in next week’s post)

If not, will you choose Jesus? If not, why not? Could anything change your mind?

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