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The Problem of Faith
What has happened to faith in our world? Faith has turned into something it was never intended to be. Faith is NOT blindly following a person, a book, or a so-called god.
“Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, proof of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). ”
Many if not most Christians have probably seen that quote before, but few have investigated what it means. There are two words that we have to pay special attention to:
assurance means foundation
proof means that by which a thing is tested
So we could read Hebrews to say, "Now faith is the foundation of things hoped for, faith is the way we test and prove things not seen. " That is a very different definition of faith than the one normally proffered. Faith is not fixed or blind, it is earned and tested until it is proven to be true or false, then tested again.
When we allow faith to be cheapened, we steal one of the greatest powers a believer has.
“But God, being rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have you been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus; for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, that no one would boast (Paul, Ephesians 2:4-9). ”
Faith is a gift from God, so that no one can boast. O, how often have we heard people boast about their faith? That is how we know they have none.
If faith is a gift, and is the foundation of things hoped for and the way we test and prove things not seen, how do we get some?
Faith is the first of the Five Powers
Faith empowers Effort. Effort builds Mindfulness. Mindfulness forges Concentration. Concentration strengthens Wisdom. Wisdom fuels Faith. So how do we start the cycle?
“Test all things, and hold firmly that which is good (Paul, 1 Thessalonians 5:21).”
We start with the test. When we are told that meditation will bring more stability to our minds, we try it. When I first started meditating, I was unsure as to whether it would work. So my faith was in the idea that meditation might stabilize my mind. My effort was to try meditating. I mindfully paid attention to whether or not meditation was helping me. I concentrated on the actions I was taking, and studied the topic to make sure I was doing it right. I grew in wisdom, not only of technique, but in the assurance that the technique was working for me. That wisdom grew my faith in meditation and the cycle continued.
My faith in meditation did not come from my works. Meditation works. All I did was test and see that it was good. My test did not make it true. It was already true. I received that first kernel of faith and took action to test it. I did not earn the benefits of meditation or the knowledge.
This same process happens everyday for so many things. It is how faith comes to us all in everything from whether or not our family loves us, to what we want to have for dinner. Faith is part of a process. The more our experience validates that faith, the stronger that faith becomes.
When faith is built on lies, fear, or bias, it has no power. It is hollow and unable to console us. It breeds anger, hatred, and mistrust. These are the signs that faith is faulty.
If faith leads to boasting, or that any one or any thing is greater or less than us, then that faith is not only false, it is a poison. That is not faith it is bias or bigotry, which are born out of the five poisons:
Faith does not ask us to reject knowledge. Faith leads to Wisdom which controls Ignorance.
Faith does not cause us to blindly hold onto any thought, person, or things to the point where it causes suffering to let it go. Faith continually tests all things and holds only to what is good.
Faith does not drive us to hate. Hatred destroys us. It is a fire in the soul that destroys all it touches. Hatred is never Mindful nor Wise.
Faith does not breed arrogance. There is nothing to boast about in receiving a free gift.
Faith does not agitate us to have what others have or make good that comes to others unbearable.
Faith is a gift, and is the foundation of things hoped for and the way we test and prove things not seen. That is True Faith.