By Rev Brian Lacey
The word “faith” is very often misunderstood. We know that “to keep the faith” means to remain true to something; and we know that “having faith in someone” means to trust that they will do what they intend to do; and we know that “to be faithful” means to keep your own promises.
Each of these meanings conveys an active sense of doing something. And yet quite often we wrongly understand “faith” to mean simply the act of believing. On that basis, the Christian faith would merely be an acknowledgement of Jesus; it would be little more than head-knowledge about his ministry and mission.
But recognising that “having faith” is an activity, rather than a thought process, helps us to understand that the Christian faith is grounded in what we do, rather than just what we think.
Yes of course we must know about Jesus, but from that knowledge must flow a practical application. Therefore “to have faith” goes beyond believing in Jesus, it also includes trusting in Jesus to deliver on the promises that he has made to us, and beyond that still, it includes our acting on that belief and trust.
Let me restate that: A Christian faith is never simply believing in Jesus; it is moreover a way of life, in which we trust that because of what Jesus has done, is doing, and will do for us - we should behave in the way that Jesus taught us to. For his resurrection and ascension prove that he is the Son of God, and that consequently we should act as he taught us to, trusting that he knows what is best for us as individuals and as a community.
Faith is therefore believing in, trusting, and being obedient to Jesus. These are the three pillars of faith, and when any of them is missing, we can end up on shaky ground. We can end up with head knowledge of Christianity, but show no evidence of Christian behaviour. Or we can know the Bible inside out, and live a good life, but never really trust that Jesus is in control. Or we can end up being “good living” but not have a living relationship with Jesus.
It is therefore so important, if we are serious about developing our Christian faith, that we focus equally on knowing about Jesus, trusting in his promises, and being obedient to his way of life.
Let our faith be something that we do, not just something that we think.