“Still, I must have faith”. That’s how I ended the last post. Sounds terribly anemic, doesn’t it? Oh, well, at least I should have faith.
“Now faith,” the book of Hebrews says, “is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
Being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This implies something and it doesn’t imply what we normally mean when the word faith is bandied about.
Faith means something. It’s not a nebulous hope rooted in a vague expectation of future changes. It pushes and prods, evident not when we utter words but when we commit to actions, actions that speak of an already settled expectation that reality may not be fully expressed in the present.
Faith provokes action. Sometimes this action may be a letting go, or a stepping back, done out of patient expectation of God’s work. Sometimes this action may mean decided changes.
Saying there can be only faith means to continue to press on towards God without evidence of his present work, assuming on a deep level his work is moving forward.
There are, however, pseudo-faith expressions which have the appearance of faithfulness but betray an inner lack. The first comes out in the constant dependence on another for faithful confidence. This sort of pseudo-faith is in continual need of reassurance about the promises, and if left alone or isolated falls into a pit of despair. Without the grounding, this pseudo-faith becomes a leech on the community, drawing away rather than contributing. It can, however, look really faithful, as such a faith is almost always extremely religious in expression, seeking to be close to those who seem confident and active in whatever means might reassure their soul. This faith is like a battery that cannot hold a charge.
Another pseudo-faith is a militant sort of faith that seeks assurance by trying to drown out any opposing voice. They want their whole surroundings to be one refrain, and anything that disturbs this refrain must be stifled. This appears faithful because it is so active in the defense of the faith and uses a great deal of moral and Scriptural language to support the action. Only, it has no reserves. Any disturbance shatters the foundation. They have no capacity to overcome inner doubt and so betray a substantial lack of true belief in the God who can and does save.
Then there is the pseudo-faith that tries to philosophize its way out of difficulties, lessening the expectation, lowering the standards, making the promises into allegorical points about emulating important life principles. This is a hard one to clarify, as it uses all the right words, only there is little depth of meaning behind these words.
I don’t need any of these kinds of faiths and they would be a total waste of my time.
What I need to hold onto is the living, palpable, action influencing faith that can weather the storm or the drought.
This is the faith that prompted Peter to step out of the boat, and later to preach on the streets of Jerusalem.
This is the faith I must hold onto, come what may.