Friday, February 26, 2010

Faith As Trust

When we hear or read the word “faith," we are most likely to understand it as a synonym for “belief.” In this understanding, faith is intellectual assent, the act of believing certain truths about God, Jesus, the Bible, and so on. Reciting the Apostles’ Creed is an example of this definition of faith.

For Paul, however, faith is active and radical trust in God. Faith is an active verb rather than a passive noun. Faith is a relational word; it describes our active reception of God’s grace. Abraham is the great example of faith-as-trust because he responds to God’s call by risking everything. He trusts God’s covenant and acts upon that trust by leaving his home and parents to travel to a distant and unknown land.

Faith isn’t simply assent to a set of beliefs, but an active, dynamic relationship of trusting God. God’s stance in this relationship is captured by the word “grace.” There are many definitions of grace, but the one I find most powerful is: God’s unconditional love. God loves us without condition. There is nothing we can do to earn or deserve God’s love. It comes as pure gift. All we can do is receive it. And the word that describes our reception of God’s grace is “faith”.

When you think about it, trust is critical in any relationship. I would go so far as to say that where there is no trust, there is no relationship. Think about the persons in your life that you trust. Your list will likely include family members, friends, co-workers and church members. The more we trust someone, the closer is our relationship with them.

When we trust someone, we feel free to be ourselves around them. We are also able to risk telling that person our deepest feelings, even those things we might be ashamed of and would like to keep hidden. Love and trust go hand in hand. Love grows as trust deepens. This is not only true of our relationship with each other, it is the truth about our relationship with God.

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