There’s a scene in the movie Princess Bride where Inigo Montoya, Vizzini, and Fezzik are looking out over a cliff as the masked man dangles from the rock face even though they just cut the rope that he was climbing. Vizzini says, “He didn’t fall? Inconceivable!” To which Inigo replies, “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.” That’s the way I feel sometimes about the way that we use faith.
Faith is considered one of the three theological virtues along with Hope and Love. Of the three, however, I think faith may be the one that is the fuzziest. I think it’s the one we use the most and define about the least. Many people will say that they have faith, meaning that they believe in God or that they hold to a particular “Faith” like Christianity or Judaism. We are told to have faith or encouraged to come to faith in Jesus, but what does that really mean?
If I were to ask people about what faith in Jesus means, my guess is that most people would define it by a particular set of belief statements. We believe that Jesus is the son of God, was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, died and rose again on the third day and is now seated at the right hand of the father. That’s good. It’s good to know and believe those things, but that is not what faith means. Faith is not primarily to know or think something. To have faith is to trust.
Some where along the line, we change out faith as trust for faith as believing something to be true. It does require trust in God to belief in the truth of Creation, but faith goes beyond simply holding certain things to be true. To have faith means altering your life because of your trust in a certain person. Part of that is a certain definition of truth. When we have faith in or trust in God, we hold the His word to be true. Faith also requires a reordering of our world. God becomes number one in our lives and our world is built around him. We change our priorities because we follow him. We do things that other people my see as strange, like giving away wealth or gathering to worship on a weekly basis. We give of our time and resources because we trust in God and believe that his way is the right way.
When I studied faith for my thesis in seminary, I’m not sure that I had a definition for faith beyond quoting Hebrews 11:1. It was somewhere between this vague was of describing how we related to God and a specific set of beliefs that I held about God and his existence. This type of faith really isn’t life changing. It was mostly a way of saying that I believed certain things to be true. As I studied, I discovered that to have faith in God is to live in such a way that I trust God more than I trust myself. I let him guide and direct my life because I believe that His ways are better than mine.
Like I wrote about last week, we need to begin to change our hearts. To live a life of faith, we don’t just believe certain things to be true, we live as if God is our Creator and Jesus is our King. We give him our allegiance and follow him wherever he leads us. When we read the Bible we obey because we trust that God knows better. Even when we think God is calling us to do something crazy we take the steps and follow him. In light of this, I challenge you to move beyond a faith that only believes certain things to be true and begin trusting God in all of live. Take the steps to move beyond simply thinking God is real to trusting his ways. Try to really have faith in God instead of simply having thoughts about God.