Faith is trustLatest Issue, Where's the Faith? Thursday, July 20th, 2017
Social Chaos: Where's the Faith?
As a progressive Christian, I believe there are many names for God and many ways to a loving God; this article reflects one of those ways. Take from here what works for you. Celebrate life with joy and peace!
What is faith? Google Dictionary defines faith as “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” Faith is also defined as a “strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.” I, personally, have faith in God or a Supreme Being/Spirit/Creator who, throughout the millennia, has been given many names. (Spirit, Allah, Jehovah, Universe, Elohim, Father/Mother, Yahweh …)
So, then, what is Christian Faith? Is it believing certain creeds, having a moving experience of God’s mercy in Christ, asking Jesus into your heart, doing deeds of mercy and justice, being a member of a church, reading the bible, being a good person, being baptized, worshiping regularly in church, praying?
These things are definitely desirable, and a part of the Christian experience and practice, but none of them alone makes one a Christian. And in this day and age when even the word “Christian” is used, it’s very loaded and emotionally charged and ranges from Mainline, Evangelical, Liberal, right-wing, conservative, to progressive, and the list goes on … I define a Christian as a follower of Jesus and one who strives to live by his teachings.
“What does it mean to have faith?” Classically, those who identify as Christians have said, God’s grace is at the heart of our experiences of life, and the hope we have in Christ. This grace is incorporated into our lives through faith. But, just what does it mean to say we have faith? Perhaps it’s best to start with the things Christian faith is not.
Faith is not intellectual agreement with certain beliefs. It’s not a statement about the nature of God or the work of Christ. Faith is not a blind hope that God will somehow make our lives easy or that God will fix all the problems we face in our lives. Faith does not magically protect us from illness, accident, betrayal, stress or even death.
If faith isn’t just blind acceptance of a set of beliefs or doctrines, nor protection from trouble, then just what is faith? Simply put, we could say faith is trust.
When the New Testament speaks about faith, maybe we would understand the meaning better if the word “trust” were substituted. Faith is a life of trust in God in all times, places and circumstances.
Many times, after Jesus healed someone, he often said to the person healed, “Your faith has made you whole.” Those who were healed trusted Jesus before he did anything for them. Trust preceded healing.
Faith is still trust in God, even in the absence of healing. We trust not only when life is good and rosy, but we trust also in hardship.
The Christ story marches to a cross and the very worst that life can give. In times like these, I’m reminded of the great sermon line … “It may be Friday, but Sunday’s a comin’!” We are an Easter people! We trust that in the resurrection, God has the last word. Now, we might think that God’s last word is late and even in our “Friday’s”, God gives words of love and grace and hope.
Trust takes many forms. Here are some: First, faith trusts God for today. The Savior’s Prayer that we pray every Sunday seeks nothing for tomorrow, but only for those things we need today. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus asks, “Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?”
Faith is marked by a quiet confidence that God’s grace will be sufficient for today. It is a trust that embraces today’s joys and troubles, and does not worry about tomorrow.
Faith also trusts that God’s nature and name is Love. Look around to those who claim to be followers of Jesus, and there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary. A strong case can be made that only the strong survive, that might makes right, and that the world is a scary and dangerous place. We are all too well aware of this, and, still trust that God’s nature and God’s name is Love.
Finally, faith trusts God not only for this life, but also for the life to come. Faith is neither focused on heaven, nor is it a strategy to escape purgatory or hell (however you define them). Faith simply trusts God’s love is greater than death. I’ve been at the bedside of many, who because of their faith, die at peace, not because of a belief in heaven, but simply because of an utter trust in God.
Rev. Leonard Sweet tells the following story in the Feb. 2, 1992 edition of Homiletics magazine:
“On March 1, 1990, Jean and Ken Chaney, while attempting to negotiate a little-used road in the Sierra National Forest, skidded off into a huge snowbank. With a blizzard swirling around them, they decided to sit tight. As they waited for help to arrive, the couple began to keep a diary of their actions. They wrote, ‘We began to realize that we were on a road that isn’t maintained during the winter … we have no idea what lies ahead … we are completely and utterly in God’s hand! What better place to be!’ They endured those days by singing hymns together, quoting all the bible verses they could recall, and praying. Still, no one came. On March 18, Jean Chaney made the following entry in their diary: “Dad went to the Lord at 7:30 this evening … It was so peaceful, I didn’t even know he left. The last thing I heard him say was, ‘Thank the Lord. I think I’ll be with him soon … I can’t see. Bye. I love you.’”
Talk about complete trust; talk about faith. Faith doesn’t depend on a happy ending. It doesn’t require rescue from life’s problems. It trusts, and believes as is written in Romans 8, that nothing in life or death can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
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