On the Corner
BY ROBERT DOCTER –
Are you a person of faith? How strong is it? Probably a lot stronger than you think.
You say: “You talkin’ about God?” Sure! But do you have faith in people? For instance–do you have faith in politicians? Let’s say you agree with the politician. Are you more likely to have faith in that person’s actions and decisions than if you disagreed with him or her? Isn’t it true that the vast majority of elected politicians of any party try to abide by their oath of office? Do you have faith in Army leaders? I mean, do you think they genuinely seek to actualize the Army’s two-part mission–to love God and help those in need? Or do they really have some other motive–like power or wealth? Do you have faith in things? You might say–“No! I have faith in God–most of the time–but I would never say I had faith in people or things.”
Wait a minute!
You’ve got loads of faith and you demonstrate it on a regular basis. You put your child on a school bus. You have faith to believe that the bus will arrive safely at the school. You don’t know that it will. But you believe it will. You demonstrate faith in the driver that he or she will maintain control of the bus. You have faith in the agency that licensed the driver–that he knows how to drive–that he’s not drunk, and that he’s in reasonably good enough health not to collapse while heading down a hill. You have faith that the brakes on the bus won’t fail. You have faith that your child will be cared for in school. You’d go crazy without this kind of faith and end up a prisoner in whatever cell you believed was safe.
So you see, faith has something to do with the measure of trust we show in people and things. You trust your husband or your wife–even if you don’t always agree with them. I bet you show it. Your trust is based on a belief system you’ve established in your own mind and that you share with the object of your faith. None of us can be absolutely positive that we will arrive home safely–but we believe it will happen. We trust it will happen. We have faith it will happen.
We continue to have faith in someone or something until they violate their commitment to us. We believe in them as long as the faith is validated–as long as their relationship with us is true, honest, and consistent–as long as they are faithful. Requiring that someone agree with you has nothing to do with whether or not they are faithful to their vows of commitment.
When we discover that our faith is not validated, it is weakened or disappears. Sometimes, this causes people to cut off relationships–to stop talking. So continuing faith requires a continuing relationship of some kind–a relationship strong enough to believe in someone or something.
Sometimes, we can’t see the actual thing in which we have faith. We don’t actually see the brakes on the bus–we don’t actually inspect the tires–we don’t actually give the driver a health or sobriety test. But our belief system allows us to establish faith. Similarly, we don’t actually see the airplane pilots as they fly the plane in for a landing, but we believe they will do a good job. We have faith they will land the plane safely. We believe they are qualified and can be trusted.
You’ve got more faith than you imagine. The big question is–In what or in whom do you place your faith?–your trust–In what or in whom do you believe? That’s the question!
Humans are only humans. They let us down sometimes, and then we have the choice either to forgive them or not. God never lets you down. He’s consistent–he’s available–he’s faithful–and he wants a relationship with you. It’s easier to have faith in God than in the airplane pilots or the bus driver, because the opportunity for a relationship is much more personal. All of science seems to be discovering the orderliness of God.
You say–“Well…I don’t know about having faith in God.” True! This is not something you gain by knowledge. This is something you gain by faith–by your willingness to believe–by the assurance you develop that his love for you is consistent. In other words, you gain faith according to the nature of your relationship with God.
Sometimes faith dies–like a marriage dies when the two parties don’t work at it. If their relationship fails to communicate mutual love, if there is infidelity, faithlessness, or if one of the parties demonstrates he or she can’t be trusted, faith in the marriage dies. If you want your marriage to succeed, you’ve got to work at it. The same with God. He will remain faithful to us despite everything. If we can’t seem to experience God…in other words, have faith in him, it’s because we don’t work at having a relationship with him.
People build relationships through intimacy. An intimate relationship reveals faith. By trusting someone to hear disclosures of your doubts, frustrations, concerns or secrets–and to know that the disclosures will be held in confidence–in private–that’s what develops an intimate relationship. An intimate relationship presumes giving and receiving. God’s gifts to us are abundant. When we receive them we need to thank him. Our gifts to him come with our obedience to his teaching and to our continuing connection with him. He wants us to get along with each other–to care about each other — to help those in poverty and hopelessness…and as we do, our faith lives and grows.