Faith is a loaded term.
Brands demand faith. Politicians demand faith. Schools, teams, clubs. Watch a college football game with 100,000 kids in the stands all wearing the same color and you’ll see faith in action.
The broad idea is commitment and conviction. The broad idea is expectation that something will happen even without evidence (“blind faith”). Look through history and you’ll find moments of faith for good and evil, movements that changed lives and eliminated lives. Faith is power.
And we’ve screwed it up.
Faith is hard. Faith is not the belief that something will happen even without evidence. Faith is not pulling the lever of the slot machine in the sky. It is not the stoplight we made in Sunday School about How Prayer is Answered with stop, wait, and go.
Faith is not a request. Faith is not a transaction. Faith is not conditional.
The night of the storm, Jesus calls Peter out onto the water. There’s wind and rain, waves and noise. There’s a boat full of his peers and a man that looks like a ghost standing off in the distance. Peter slings his leg over the side of the boat and takes a step. We read he takes more than one before literally taking his eyes off Jesus. At that point, he sinks.
Let’s dig deeper.
1-Faith requires the storm. Jesus tells us we will have trouble. Go through history, page through the Bible and do a quick Google search on martyrs. No one who follows Jesus is immune. There’s a reason for communities of faith. They exist as support systems. Life is ugly. More hands help to provide strength and comfort in the dark nights.
2-Faith is daily action. You can, and you will, have moments of distance. Jonah found himself in the depths, David in the desert. There is nothing about faith that is once and done. It takes effort and time, a choice every day to hear the still, small voice of the divine.
3-Faith is loss. Imagine the early church, the ones who had seen Jesus had to face his death. The ones later had to go off of writing and witness accounts. Faith is how we deal with the hole in our heart waiting to be filled with something. We will all become orphans one day. We will face the passing of time. Faith is the intersection between loss, grief, and the sun rising. Baptism symbolizes death for this reason, it is a concept not far from the minds of every believer and a reminder of so much more.
So, if we’ve watered it down and compressed it, what actually is faith? Beyond the car magnates, bumper stickers, conferences and political movements. What does it mean to believe?
What if it has nothing to do with belief?
There is a divine story. There is meaning and purpose, influence and grace. There is hope in helping and healing in sacrifice. Faith is tapping into the undercurrent.
Faith is a willingness to let go.
Faith is the point where you break through the weight of this world and feel the supernatural. It is the moment of intoxicating joy and unending grace.
It is the laughter of your child, the sunset over the ocean, the red hue of a rose. Faith is the beauty of creation.
Faith is an invitation to be a part of something more. Faith is a journey. Faith is humility. Faith is knowing that you are meant for something more.
Faith is a state of cognitive readiness, of acting and living the circumstances you are called to embrace.
This has existed from the moment the universe breathed into existence. Faith kept the stars in the sky, filled the oceans and pushed the winds across the desert.
It has nothing to do with right and wrong, with division and “teams”. Faith does not place you against someone else. It hopes in bigger, better, and greater things. Faith is not a place of privilege or superiority.
Faith does not make you better than anyone else.
As Paul said, faith shows you your failings, holding up a mirror to the past to help you be thankful for the present and inspired for the future.
This faith can change the world. This faith opens blind eyes. This faith feeds the hungry, provides for those in need, and opens hearts. This faith reflects Jesus and our calling to follow.
This faith gets us off the boat and, when we sink, it picks us up again to keep walking in the storm.