He was a hero of mine, someone who inspired me through his words and called me to always fight for hope. During a difficult season, his writing spoke into my soul, reminding me that there was still something good to be found in the wreckage of my life. I felt like he was a close friend, even though we had only met once in a fleeting moment during his visit to Los Angeles.
A day came when I wrote him directly to express an idea about sharing his words with others. Rather than receiving my idea as a compliment, he saw my suggestion as confusing and an inconvenience…At least his response sent me that message. The words he used in his reply were cold and dismissive, which simply didn’t match the person I believed him to be.
The hope this author inspired immediately dissipated, as feelings of rejection filled the vacant space. Who could I trust if even he would betray my faith? Are we simply creatures designed to aimlessly limp through life, seeking truth in a world absent of its presence? Is there no one we can truly trust?
We often exchange believing in others with placing our faith in others. That may sound the same, but it’s incredibly different.
Let me explain.
When we believe in someone else we call out their greatest potential. When we believe in others we are extending love and grace in their brokenness, reminding them of hope. When we believe in others, we remind them that the fingerprints of God are visible throughout their lives, even when they can’t see.
And yet, when we place our faith in someone else we are asking them to be someone they can never be: God.
I know, that sounds so “spiritual” and churchy, especially if you don’t believe in a higher being. But what if it’s true? What if the essence of faith is designed for God alone? What if the existence of what we call “faith” is an expression given to us by the Creator?
Why do we all want something to put our faith in if God isn’t at the core of our desperation? Without God, why do we seek science to give us all the answers? Without God, why do we listen to self-help gurus, hoping that we will find resolve for our deepest questions? Without God, why do so many people have their hearts broken through failed relationships, believing that the other person was supposed to complete them?
We all have faith, but misplaced faith will eventually leave us feeling rejected and hollow.
Are we not seeking something or someone to tell us what is true?
And if you’re a follower of Jesus, how often do we self-evaluate our reverence for leaders within the Christian community? I’ve seen legalistic, self-righteous, religious nuts who weigh down congregations out of a hunger for power rather than the grace of the Gospel. On the flip-side, I’ve witnessed rock star pastors demanding nothing short of admiration and honor from hungry and broken followers, desperate for hope from anyone willing to provide.
Let’s face a very obvious fact: if we put our faith in people – including Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – we will be left with bitter disappointment.
In the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth, he gave the believers a sharp reminder of where our faith belongs:
“For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere human beings? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” – 1 Corinthians 3:4-7
Sorry to break it to you, but if Paul could claim no honor for himself, neither should anyone else. In case you have no idea who Paul is, get a Bible and read it. Or, look him up on Wikipedia. He was a pretty big deal.
You may be thinking, “But Andrew…Doesn’t that mean we shouldn’t put our faith in you, as well???” YES!!! That is exactly what I’m saying! Do you really think I’m capable of never disappointing you? I can’t even avoid disappointing myself, much less everyone else!
And yet, I do want you to believe in me, to call out the best in me, and to remind me of my worth. If you’re honest, you long for the same thing…Don’t you?
Try this today: start believing in the best of others and allow yourself to be disappointed. Give yourself permission to seek God, even if He feels far away, rather than some other broken person. Put your faith in the One who will never disappoint.