Column: Necessary faith
“… if we are faithless, he will remain faithful …” – 2 Timothy 2:13
Have you ever noticed that most of what the Bible says about faith is about God’s faith, not ours?
Obviously faith is a major theme in scripture. Derivative words – faith, faithful, faithfulness, faithless, etc. – appear hundreds of times. Only a few nouns (God, Lord, Love, Heaven and maybe a few others, whatever, not the point) appear more often.
Out here in the fallen world, amid humanity’s mixed bag of kindness, strife, beauty, disaster, comfort, horror and generally things that work out and things that don’t work out, faith often is regarded as a conjured, vaporous, wishful crutch for man’s existential helplessness.
Faith is the Almighty Creator God’s unyielding truth, power and relational promise. Faith, the Bible unrelentingly tells us, is a God thing, not a mankind thing.
Throughout the Old Testament “faith” most often appears – dozens and dozens of times – directly referencing “God’s faithfulness” (Genesis 24:27) or humans praising God’s faithfulness (see the Psalms). Most direct references to human faith are in the context of “broken faith” or “faithlessness.” I’m serious. Look it up.
In the New Testament, Hebrews 11 famously catalogues great examples of Old Testament holy lives – Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses and others – who trusted God “by faith” they themselves did not create and could not see. Faith, we can discern from the New Testament, comes to tactile fruition in the person of Jesus Christ, who bore history’s only gift of God’s faith mankind could see and touch.
So …you have faith? Great, it’s a gift from God. It’s the light God provided our souls at Creation. It’s a light illuminating divine things outside our experience. It’s a light for discerning the mysterious, often-hidden-in-plain-sight reality of God, of His Creation and of our own relationship within God’s belovedness and Creation’s majesty. It’s a light God bestows along with the freedom to stoke it with the fuel of God’s own faith so it burns brightly, or asphyxiate it with our own self-centeredness, fear and pride.
The light, by the way, is Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
G.K. Chesterton warned elegantly (in “Orthodoxy”) against “Inner Light” theology: that God exists within and is controlled by the human soul. Problematically, if the “self” is where we believe God exists, we wind up worshiping the self instead of God.
A bad idea.
Faith isn’t so much something we possess; it’s a fundamental, necessary piece of God’s character that He shares with us through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
That makes faith the ultimate team effort. And with it, we are never alone.
Walters (firstname.lastname@example.org) is more thankful than faithful, but he’s working on it.