The sun beats down on your head. Dust coats your tongue. You are so very, very thirsty. You are dying in this desert. All you have is a straw. That straw is useless to you. It will not save your life.
And then, you find it: In the shadow of a rock, a pool! The water lies in a crack you cannot reach with your hands… but you can with your straw.
The straw has not saved your life. The water has saved your life. The straw was merely the way the water got to you.
Faith is a straw.
Faith does not save us. God’s undeserved love saves us. We don’t do a thing to get him to pay attention to us. Our faith does not get God to forgive us. Our belief does not convince him to give us his blessings.
What if it did?
Does God save you because you believe in him? How strong is your faith, then? Do you ever doubt? Do you ever wrestle with God’s promises? Do you ever struggle with what he has put in your life right now? Do you ever worry? These things are not trust. If God forgives us based on our faith, on our trust… we are in deep trouble.
What’s more, God does demand perfect trust. He does demand that we trust him with unwavering belief. We fail every day.
Ah, but Jesus did have that perfect trust. He never doubted his Father in heaven. He resisted all urges to worry. While he expressed preferences, he always subjected his will and his trust to God. And when he died, he traded places with you. He took all the punishment for the times your faith has wavered. And in God’s eyes, you have Jesus’ perfect trust. You have been credited with Jesus’ perfect faith.
So, do not worry. It doesn’t matter how hard you believe. You don’t have a burden on you of paying attention to your faith as if your salvation depended on it. Your faith does not bear the weight of saving you. Jesus saves you.
So what good is faith? It is the instrument by which God blesses you with forgiveness and peace and joy. God does not save you because of your faith. He saves you through your faith. Faith… is the straw.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8, 9)