Recently, I attended a church in which the back five rows of chairs were roped off with signs printed that said these were for “families with small children.” I don’t have small children. As I stood and looked at these roped off chairs, an usher came to me and suggested I would like to sit in the front of the church and with arm outstretched, was willing to point me in the right direction. When I asked the reason for the ropes and why they wanted me to sit near the front, the answer was: “We like to control the environment during the service.”
More recently, I was in a discussion with a friend. She had just received an unexpected bill. My husband and I had also recently received an unexpected bill when our transmission burned in our truck. Both of these bills were about $2700 each. Neither of us knew how we would pay the unwelcome, unexpected bills of nearly $2700. The difference between us: Faith or control. My response said, “I don’t know how I will pay this, but my God is a big God and it is in His hands.” Her response was fret and worry. When I pointed out the difference, it started a conversation leading to me stating that living by faith isn’t fun and her conclusion that she has faith, but it is “controlled faith.”
As I sit here this morning, I am pondering these questions: Is “CONTROL” an elusive ideal we have created as in the church service with the “controlled environment?” Is “CONTROL” a drive for us to attain perfection in our lives? Do we use our control over situations and decisions to keep away from the undesirable or keep from making decisions? Is there such a thing as “controlled faith?” If there is, is it wrong to have “controlled faith?” If we do exercise “controlled faith,” can we use it use to further God’s kingdom?
CONTROLLED OR FAITH?
In the last year, we’ve also attended churches in which dogs walk around and kids make noises while playing on the floor in the back. We’ve attended a church service meeting in a tent where the wind blew through, messing with paper and Bible pages. Some churches serve coffee, people get a cup of coffee during the service also. If people move around during the church service or if someone shouts out “amen” or “preach it, pastor,” does this make it an uncontrolled environment?
In my personal life, I have encountered unexpected things happen that are out of my control. I have prayed for things and people for years without having any answers. I have faith in God that says He will provide so I pray, but often, I immediately start to finagle an answer by fixing it myself. If I attempt to figure out answers to my prayers, does this mean I am exercising “controlled faith?” What if I am asked to step out and lead a ministry or speak up about an injustice, and then won’t because I say I don’t have the qualifications or I don’t want to get involved. Or what if I say no telling them I need to pray about it or I need more information before speaking up, does this also mean I am exercising “controlled faith?”
EVERY CHRISTIAN WILL PRACTICE CONTROLLED FAITH
Every Christian will practice controlled-faith at some time during their walk with Jesus. So what does controlled faith truly look like?
I’ll use two examples from my own life.
- Our church was holding an outing of an afternoon canoe ride followed by a cookout. I immediately said I would be the cook. Why? Because of my fear of the water. I did not want anyone to see me be scared so I took the easy way out and did the cooking. I would not face my fear of the water or faced my issue of pride. BUT I never prayed and asked God which I should do…I didn’t want to hear Him say to get into that canoe. Controlled faith in this instance was me giving into the fear of the water and my pride.
- I wanted to own a restaurant. So I prayed and told God I wanted a restaurant. I started looking for ways to own one without money, without doing all the business training, and without learning the behind the scenes of actually operating a restaurant. I found a way to open a restaurant using credit cards. I qualified for lots of credit cards and I thanked God for making a way for me. I didn’t realize until it was too late I had jumped ahead of God’s plans for my life. I exercised my faith by controlling my own destiny.
Here are a few examples of controlled faith I’ve seen in others…
- Will you read the scriptures for us this Sunday? Answer: No, I’m sorry, I don’t read very well.
- We have a young girl here in the church that could use a mentor, do you have an hour or so each week you might be able to spend with her? Answer: No, I’m sorry. My schedule is full already.
- Can you support the men’s shelter with a donation? Answer: No, I’m sorry. Money is tight.
MOVING FROM CONTROLLED FAITH TO FAITH WITHOUT NEEDING CONTROLS
My definition of Controlled Faith:
Whenever God says to His child 'move' and His child won't, it is controlled faith. Click To Tweet
For if God will say to us ‘move in this direction,’ He will also provide a way for us to do it.”
Would you like to share with me how you exercise “controlled faith” in your life?
I have shared just two instances in my life, yet there are a many, many more times God has asked me to move and I had a reason to say no. There have also been times when God has asked me to move and I said yes, often when it made no sense to me nor did I know how I could get it done! These are the times when I have grown in faith.
We, as Christians, are continually learning and growing. The saying says that if you aren’t moving forward then you are going backward. There is no standing still in the Christian faith. Share your thoughts, I’d love to discuss the subject of “controlled faith” more.