“The faith that changes the life and connects to God is best conveyed by the word “trust.” Imagine you are on a high cliff and you lose your footing and begin to fall. Just beside you as you fall is a branch sticking out of the very edge of the cliff. It is your only hope and it is more than enough to support your weight. How can it save you? If your mind is filled with intellectual certainty that the branch can support you, but you don’t actually reach out and grab it, you are lost. If your mind is instead filled with doubts and uncertainty that the branch can hold you, but you reach out and grab it anyway, you will be saved. Why? It is not the strength of your faith but the object of your faith that actually saves you. Strong faith in a weak branch is fatally inferior to weak faith in a strong branch.” -Timothy Keller in The Reason For God.
My church small group has been reading through this book over the last few months and this paragraph was in the epilogue and really spoke to me. Some illustrations just work better than others for different people and this one really hammered home the fact that we are saved through our faith in Christ and nothing else. And our having the faith isn’t as important as what/who we have that faith in, because it really is through everything that Jesus Christ does.
Our group leader, Marilyn, always likes to ask us, “What did you get out of this chapter?” at the conclusion of every meeting we have. This is clearly it for me when we discuss it. She also likes to say that “It’s not about me.” And that is so true in this illustration. It’s easy to just pay lip service to the notion that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith”(Eph. 2:8). We say it but don’t always live it. Why? Because of our sinful nature. We end up trying to measure up to the grace that has been shown to us, to in some way earn our salvation after it has already been gifted to us. Even if we don’t do it by our works and our deeds, we’ll say, “Well, the more faith I have, the more deserving I will be of grace.” But it’s not the strength of our faith that gets the job done. It’s the object of our faith that makes the difference.
The best definition ever given for grace is “unmerited favor.” I continue to be amazed and humbled every time that God reveals just how unmerited his favor actually is.