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Words of Life

Do You Believe?

By Randy Robison July 24, 2016 Words of Life

There is little I dread more than a long flight. The physics of flying are both amazing and terrifying. The Boeing 777-300, like the one I took from Los Angeles to Hong Kong, can carry over 500 passengers. It’s over 200 feet long and weighs in the range of 275 tons, or 550,000 lbs., when fully loaded at takeoff. In my non-engineering mind, this thing should never get off the ground. Yet if a highly-flammable fuel catapults it fast enough, it will rise into the air and cruise at an average of 35,000 feet above the earth. The whole idea is that if you just go fast enough, you won’t fall to the ground. This sorta freaks me out.

Still, I got on board for fourteen hours and made the trip. It was part of a mission trip into Cambodia, so there was at least a spiritual component that helped soothe my mind. But if I didn’t have faith that the flight would safely arrive halfway around the world, I promise you I would not have gotten on the airplane. Heck, if I’m flying for less than two hours up to Denver and I think the weather is dangerous, I’m not going. Once, when scheduled to return from Denver, the local weatherman reported that there were “blizzard-like conditions” at the airport, but planes were still taking off. I purposely missed that flight. I am such a white-knuckled flyer that I have to absolutely believe that the airplane will safely arrive at my destination. Otherwise, I’m not getting on board.

It’s one thing to have faith in something, like the idea of flight, and quite another to believe you will be safe actually doing it. That’s the difference between faith and believing.

The English world “faith” appears in the Greek as pistis. It is similar to the Greek word for “believe,” which is pistueo. They are the noun and verb, respectively, of the same idea. Faith is the thing one holds to be true. Believing puts it into practice.

That’s where too many professing believers never get off the ground. People say they believe in Jesus Christ, claim the Bible is true (or most of it, at least), and may even acknowledge the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but if they don’t put it into practice, they never reach their intended destination. It wouldn’t matter how much I claimed to have faith in flight if I never got on an airplane. Faith is easy when you’re safely on the ground. But the truth comes out when you’re tested. When life taxis you out to the runway and you have to push the thrusters to the max to take off, you find out what you really believe.

James, the brother of Jesus, wrote that “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:17) He was emphasizing this dynamic between pistis and pistueo. He was pointing out that when we have faith, we have to actually do something about it. We have to put it into motion, which results in Godly works. The works don’t create faith; they are the natural expression of faith that is alive.

This is the calling to you who profess faith: Do something about it! This doesn’t mean you have to fly to Cambodia to do mission work (though you might) or quit your job to become a pastor (though you might do that, too). It means you will put your faith that proclaims love, forgiveness, patience, kindness, holiness, and all of the other hallmarks of Christ into action. You’ll practice love, forgiveness, patience, kindness, holiness, and so on. And when you can’t do them on your own (because you can’t), you will invite the Holy Spirit to work through you, submit to His will, and simply do it.

Adapted from Rise Above by James Randall Robison, available at

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