Threadbare Words – FAITH

It’s no wonder this word is ambiguous for us today. Once, if you had a faith, you were different, you stood out. Now everyone has a “faith.” I was recently contending with an atheist, (as I enjoy doing) and when I pressed him on some of his vaguer reasons for choosing NOT believing in God, he said, “Well, you know, somethings require a bit of faith.” Yes, I suppose they do.

As I look at a dictionary definition I read: faith 1) an institution to express belief in a divine power, 2) a strong belief in a supernatural power, or powers that control human nature.

Not sure that faith is believing in a power that can control human nature, that kind of negates free-will, but I digress.

So, faith, with a capital F, as in “I’m a Christian” or “I’m a Muslim.” Easy, Faith is an identifier, connecting one with an institution. I think it’s this second part of the definition that we’re after, faith as a “strong belief in a divine power. A divine power that is trustworthy, firm, secure, stable, and certain.

As I’ve spent time contemplating this word, I realize faith, that is a “strong belief” in a divine power, resides in two places. It resides comfortably in my soul, an anchor for me when times are hard. There is an element of trust in this aspect of faith. It is based on my experience with God, and my knowledge of who He is.

“I trust God to bring about a good result, because He has before.”

I feel an emotional sigh almost. The comfort of being dependent on someone stronger than myself, a divine power.

But it has been my experience that faith must also reside in the WILL. There is an element of intellectual ascent that must be present, I must decide to trust. This trust is also based on my experience and knowledge of God, but it does not rest on my feelings.

There are situations where my feelings have betrayed me, or have not been present. In these situations, I must say “I decide to trust that God will help me through this, although there are no signs that this is actually true, yet will I set my mind to believe that I will not be overcome.”

My mind leads, my heart follows.

I thank God for the times I feel uplifted in my trust, and I thank God for the times when I don’t. God’s faithfulness doesn’t depend on my feelings or my thoughts. He is always faithful, for He cannot deny who He is.  And it is in this truth that my faith is grounded.

I encourage you to examine your own faith in God. Does it reside in both your heart and in your mind? Can you join your voice to the psalmist’s?

“Nevertheless, though I am sometimes afraid, yet I will put my trust in Thee.” Ps 56:3

In 2010, I struggled with this issue of deciding to trust. I wrote a longer piece that appeared in our faith community magazine. You may read it here.

Threadbare Words is a series of pieces exploring thin, worn-out words. The idea is to examine their real meaning, consider their overuse and, finally take a fresh look at them through the filter of a 21st century mind to discern if they’re still relevant.

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