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We need to get back to childlike faith
We need to get back to childlike faith
Children are simple and trusting
Children are simple and trusting
Peter could walk on water until he took his eyes off Jesus
Peter could walk on water until he took his eyes off Jesus
Indiana Jones couldn't see the stone bridge when he took his first step
Indiana Jones couldn't see the stone bridge when he took his first step
Angus Buchan trusts God to do the impossible
Angus Buchan trusts God to do the impossible


Faith: The Eighth Knightly Virtue

In my first article (which you can find on my website under Knighthood), I said that 1) chivalry has always defined what it means to be a man and a woman in Western societies; 2) that we have lost that understanding in modern times; and 3) that if we can get back to it, most of our problems - social and otherwise - will be solved. Because, really, everything comes down to how we treat each other, and that is exactly what knighthood and its code of chivalry are about.

I also said that the twelve virtues that make up the code of chivalry are exactly the same as the twelve virtues of Christianity, which is why the code works. So, in the weeks ahead, I want to take you on an adventure through the twelve virtues, talk about knights and ladies, and show you that if we can get back to that way of thinking and behaving - which was practiced, not just in the Middle Ages, but in every age up to the present - we can save our society from the self-destructive course it's on.

But before I get into the twelve virtues specifically, I want to give you a learning tool that will help you think about and remember them. They form a wheel, which I call the Circle of Chivalry or the Wheel of Virtues. They remind me of King Arthur's round table. There is an order to the virtues and a relationship between them which a clock face will help you remember. There is one virtue for each number, and where they fall on the clock face is significant. I'm not going to go through them in order; but when I'm done, you'll see how they all fit together and why they're in the order and positions they are.

I want to start with two of the most dynamic virtues: faith and courage. Faith is in the number 8 position on the wheel, and courage is in the number 2 spot. They're opposite each other. I'll talk about the significance of that in my next article when I deal with courage. But for now, let me just say that you cannot have one without the other. Faith and courage are interdependent, even though they are significantly different. Another name for faith is trust, which carries most of the same meaning, but lacks the spiritual implications. Knights in the Middle Ages just called it faith.

Before I plunge headlong into a discussion of faith, let me say that we need to forget most of what we were taught in school about knights and knighthood, because most of it was written by skeptical, cynical people. That is because we live in a skeptical, cynical era, in which we doubt everything, especially the supernatural. The Middle Ages were just the opposite. Knights and ladies lived in a romantic, mystical period in which they believed in everything, especially the supernatural. So, they were a different breed from us. Their society nurtured faith, whereas ours destroys it. To understand knighthood, you're going to have to allow yourself to let go of your skepticism and cynicism and enter their world.

This shouldn't be too difficult because you lived in that world when you were a child. Then, you believed in things you couldn't see or understand; now, you're all wrapped up in the materialistic world of self so that you no longer believe. It's time to get back to the simple, trusting attitude of a child. Christ said that unless we become like little children, we will never enter His Kingdom (Matthew 18:3). So, let yourself be filled with childlike faith, if for no other reason, so you can see God's Kingdom and enter into it.

Knights and ladies were simple people with simple faith. I'm not going to get into the politics and socio-economic aspects of the feudal system of the Middle Ages, except as it relates to the code of chivalry. But for the most part, the world these people lived in was a simple one in which faith played a major role. This was not only true of them, it was true of both our Biblical and our national forefathers. As a matter of fact, life has been simple and pretty much faith-based for most people throughout history up until the modern era.

Most people today assume that the stories of King Arthur and his knights are made up because they are so fantastic. I don't believe that, for the most part. When I read about the Knights of the Round Table and their feats of faith, they remind me of the heroes of the Bible, especially those mentioned in Hebrews 11. Tell me: what is so different about a single knight killing an entire army of men with his sword back in King Arthur's day, and Jonathan, Saul's son, killing an army of men with the jawbone of an ass in his? Both required faith and both resulted in miracles.

Faith and miracles were not just common in the Bible and during the Middle Ages: there are people today doing the same things. I am going to send you a movie review in a few days called Faith Like Potatoes. In this film, a South African farmer-turned-preacher trusts God to raise a girl from the dead, to send rain on a cloudless day to put out a forest fire, to have a bumper potato crop in the middle of a drought, to heal a cripple man and more. This is a true story. These things are happening all over the world where there are people who are still simple and trusting enough to have faith. It is only in the skeptical, cynical West that these things aren't happening. We have to get back to that type of faith. Otherwise, why are we here and where can we possibly hope to go?

Look at the people in Hebrews 11. Their families and friends thought they were crazy to do what God had called them to do. Even Jesus' family thought He was crazy, and came to get Him and take Him home (Mark 3:21). If your family and friends don't think you're a little bit crazy, something's wrong. They ought to be asking questions like, "Why is he doing that? Is he nuts?!" People should wonder about you. Your life shouldn't be an open book. There ought to be some mystery to it - mystery provided by faith.

Faith answers the question, "Why?" Why did Noah build the ark? Why did Abraham leave his family and go off looking for the City of God? Why did he and Sara think they could have a child in their old age? Why did Abraham try to offer the son God had promised him, Isaac, as a sacrifice? Why did Moses choose to suffer with the Children of Israel rather than enjoy the pleasures of being Prince of Egypt for a season? Why did David want to build God a house? Why did Daniel and his friends choose to be thrown into a lion's den and a fiery furnace rather than obey the king's command? Why? Why? Why?

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." (Hebrews 11:1) "Without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6) Faith is one of the foundation stones in any man or woman's life who wants to please God. Pleasing God was the primary goal of the majority of knights and ladies during the Age of Chivalry. It should be ours as well - but it takes faith.

Here are two examples of faith that I love: Peter walking on the water and a scene from Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade. Peter waited for Christ to tell him to get out of the boat; but once He did, Peter didn't hesitate. He plunged into the roaring sea, which was typical of his headstrong nature. As long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, a miracle took place and his needs were met. But once he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at and listened to the world, he failed. Faith requires total obedience and absolute focus on Christ.

In Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, Indiana (Harrison Ford) had to cross a wide chasm without any visible means. But on encouragement from his father, Henry (Sean Connery), he stepped out in faith and was able to cross. Afterwards, the camera swings around and reveals that there was a stone walkway there all along, camouflaged by the surrounding rock. But when Indiana took that first step, he walked out onto what he thought was thin air. That is the nature of faith. There may be a logical, scientific explanation for what happens; but from our perspective, there is nothing there but God's promise. It is up to Him how he wants to fulfill it.

To walk out in faith is to test God. That's not the same as tempting God. God wants us to test, or prove, Him (Malachi 3:10). George Mueller used to sit his orphans around the tables at dinner time, even though there was no food in the cupboards. He had prayed for food in the morning, and he knew God wouldn't be late. Sure enough, someone would always pull up to the orphanage with a truckload of food before the clock struck noon. And Mueller never told anyone but God about his need. God wants us to come to Him in prayer and He wants us to trust that He will take care of our needs.

Go to God in prayer. Ask Him what to do about a situation in your life. Expect His answer to be something difficult or seemingly impossible. Don't ask your friends what they think about it. Go, do what God has said. See His answer come to pass, and you may see a miracle. God is the God of miracles, and faith is the key to seeing them.

Here's one more thing about faith: it's not about us. Christ said that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we can move a mountain (Matthew 17:20). It's not the size of our faith that's important - just whether or not we have it. Our faith doesn't move the mountain - God does. But He's not going to do it unless we believe He can. Either we do or we don't.

Christ often asked people, "Do you believe that I can do this?" That is the million dollar question. And that is what separates a true knight from a common Joe, and a true lady from a peasant girl. Faith is the key that unlocks the door to miracles - and to our hearts.


Waitsel Smith, June 15, 2009

Text © 2009 Waitsel Smith. All Rights Reserved.

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