Faith is not certainty
January 17, 2007
It is counterintuitive. To have faith, aren't I to be certain? It is here logic betrays the point.
Aren't people of faith to be certain of what they do, where they lead, where or what they plant? And, isn't fear the opposite? And by extension, isn't to be fearful to be faithless?
Definitions matter. Webster's New World Dictionary has five. But here our sloppy, multi-use of "faith" serves us poorly. It can mean anything from what is your religion (i.e., "faith") to "unquestioning belief."
The Scriptures have a particular way of shaping its meaning. Faith in God is to so trust in Him that if He fails we are doomed. We put all of our eggs into one basket. There is no sidestepping. Christians put their life, their totality into trusting that who He claims to be and what He promises to be are true. What if it isn't? What if He isn't? Then we've got nowhere to turn. If God doesn't show up, we're sunk.
If I am certain, I don't need to exercise faith. Frankly, much of what we do could be done by one who doesn't believe in God.
"Faith," worn thin by careless verbiage and trite claims, loses its wonder and therefore power. Recall Joshua, bumping up against the Jordan, pushed by tired Israelites who want access to the Promised Land. "What am I to do?" he asks. "When the feet of the priests touch the water, I will stop it," the Lord replies.
Joshua might have said, "Interesting. But I have another idea. You stop the water and then we'll walk across."
Faith is what we do, not what we "believe." It is being vulnerable to trust. It means we proceed without Plan B.
Biblical stories are filled with leaders who practiced faith. Too often I say, "I'm living by faith," but just in case, I build a bridge or two. Certainty is good. Faith is quite different. The opposite. It is to operate in a zone that casts us beyond our capabilities and capacities.
The Great You who called Abraham to leave the Silicon Valley of his day, and by faith go where he had no idea, may we know the fright and joy of that faith walk. May no silliness or grandstanding mar Your grand call to authentic faith. Instead dear Lord, help break the demanding need for certainty as by faith we walk to the water's edge. Amen.
The opposite of faith is not doubt but certainty.