Faith. The very bedrock of belief, the bottom line of commitment, the primary prerequisite for salvation. Yet, it is a bit of a mystery. We know it’s necessary, but we don’t always understand it. We desire more of it, but don’t know where to begin to look for it.
What is faith?
To have faith is to believe in, to place your trust and confidence in, to trust and rely on a person, an institution or a cause, to rest your entire weight on something. In our relationships with each other, when we have faith in each other, we believe in one another, defend each other, and are loyal to each other. Our faith in each other is easily defined by the Living Bible paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13:7.
You may be thinking, “but isn’t that Paul’s definition of love?” Love and faith are very close. When you truly love someone, you trust them with your secrets, your thoughts, your feelings, your life. When you have complete commitment in someone, bottom line, you love them!
How do we get faith?
There are a number of causes of faith—a number of reasons why we believe.
- Forced – Sometimes, complete belief in others and in God, is a result of force (or fear of force). “If you don’t trust me, I’ll break your arm.” Other times, threats are used. “If you aren’t saved and believe in God, you’ll burn in hell.” But this kind is, at best, shaky and often short-lived.
- Experimental – “I’ll try church. I’ll try prayer. I’ll try believing in God. If it doesn’t work out the way I want it to, I’ll try something else.” Like the “forced” kind of trust, this is often shaky and unstable. It is only a partial commitment and not a total leaning and trusting on God.
- Desperation – “You’ve GOT to help me. I have no place else to turn. I’m at the end of my rope.” But, when the crisis is past, the formerly desperate go their own way, forgetting who bailed them out of panic. This is a “foul weather faith”, like an umbrella or rain coat, it is only used when the storms come.
- Loving – This is the only kind that lasts. When you love someone, you trust that they won’t let you down. They will stand by you if you need them and they will always be on your side, through thick and thin.
Why do we believe?
Love is faith in action. Without love, our belief is shallow, shaky and uncertain. Without this total commitment to God, ourselves, and the message of love we have to share, our love becomes self-centered at worst, or narrowly defined, at best.
Our faith is based on love—being loved by God, loving him, and loving others. Without love, true faith is impossible. Without faith, love is empty. Our love is our faith.