by Dennis Peacocke
There are numbers of definitions of “faith,” as different people use the word to describe different things. However, they all have a common core, and that is, having a measure of confidence in a person or thing. The immediate question then arising is this — what kind of confidence or what level of confidence? For example, I have faith in something or someone until they prove unreliable or unpredictable. I have faith in something up to a specific “fault line,” but would I bet my life or all I own on that person or thing as an ultimate support system? All of us carry multiple levels of faith or confidence in many things on an everyday basis without necessarily measuring or calibrating the appropriate level of that faith until a crisis forces that evaluation.
For Christians, that faith is commonly directed in two ways: there is, saving faith in Jesus Christ, and secondly, faith in a particular doctrine, denomination, or set of people. In this Christian context, faith is more complex. It is less based upon what the individual can do in terms of competency, and instead is primarily based upon the faith the individual has in God’s words, promises, and Christ’s work on behalf of them. Faith initially shifts away, so to speak, from self to God, and until God “proves” Himself in this dance between God and the believer, it is not recognizable in terms of results.
“In terms of results” is the key phrase here. Results are what truly connect faith for everyone. Indeed, faith either works or it doesn’t. In this sense, faith is both a noun, as in something one possesses, and a verb, as in something one does. Having made these distinctions, let me cut to the chase: if faith does not produce measurable results in terms of expected outcomes, it is adjusted, weakened, or abandoned. The more secure the test and expectation, the more faith is tested or at risk.
Here is my premise: under pressure, all people act out or “default” to what they really trust, even if it is at odds with what they say they believe. Since this is true, all “tests” or pressures are actually a gift since they show us what we really, truly believe, what we need to practice on to make our faith work better, or what we need to re-define. All three of these things bring us closer to truth and reality. As a believer, does that threaten me? Quite the contrary — the closer one gets to reality, the closer one gets to God, for He is and dwells in reality, and that is…..the bottom line.