Many of you who know me and have read my blogs know how big a fan I am of Rob Bell, his teaching, books and DVD's.
On one of the DVD's, 'Dust', he talks about God's faith in us and belief in us to follow Him. He uses the story of Peter walking on water, and says that one of the reasons he sinks is becuase he loses faith in himself.
Now this goes against the traditional view of this verse. Many people have attacked Rob Bell for this, but I think I know what he's getting at.
He's not saying that Peter thinks he can do things by himself.
He's not saying that Peter loses confidence in himself and his own abilities.
He is saying he loses faith in His ability to be like Jesus. His ability to become like Jesus and do the things Jesus does. He loses faith in his own value through God.
Jesus calls Peter out, He believes in Peter, and that through the power of God he can do what Jesus himself is doing. Peter keeps his eyes on Jesus, and keeps faith in His ability to do what He does, and has faith in what Jesus has spoken to him to do.
Then Peter doubts. He doubts whether he's truly capable of following his masters footsteps. He's lost faith that he could ever do the things Jesus does, so he takes his eyes off Jesus.
So in fact, both meanings are correct.
Peter loses faith in Jesus, and he loses faith in himself - in his own ability to be like Jesus, to follow Him and do His will.
Jesus does believe in us. He believes that if we follow Him and put Him at the centre of our lives, order our lives around Him then through the power of the Spirit we can become like Him.
Not perfect of course. But as close as is humanly possible.
Jesus entrusted the spreading and building of the kingdom of God to His followers. He beleived in them, that if they were obedient to God and put Him at the centre, and allowed Him to work through them, that they were capable of "even greater things" (his own words).
Rob Bell doesn't for one minute suggest that we can do things for God in our own strength. He doesn't ever say that. What he does say is that Jesus and God beleive and have faith in us to put Him at the centre, and through His power do the things He wants us to do, which are beyond the abilities we would have without Him.
That's what Rob Bell says when he says Jesus has faith in us. He sees who we really are and what we're capable of if we put God at the centre, and wants us to see it too. Then we really put Jesus at the centre of our lives, and we end up doing things by His power and in His name that we never thought we could do, but Jesus always knew we could by His power.
If we lose confidence we can do what God has called us to, if we lose faith and trust in Jesus and take our eyes off Him, if we doubt what He has spoken about us and to us, and we doubt His ability to enable us to do anything He calls us to, then we may fall down. We might get set back.
Indeed, we probably do sometimes.
But that's where Jesus comes in and saves us, and sets us back on the road we were on, and we are stronger for the experience.
Jesus has faith in who we were made to be in His strength. God beleives in the person we can be through faith in Him.
That's what Rob Bell means, and that's a great source of encouragment.
Through faith in Jesus and believing in His call on our lives and in who He made us to be, by His power and in His strength there's nothing we're not capable of.