Lesson 6: Faith 2

I closed last week’s post with the question, “What does faith in God involve? What do we trust God to do for us?”

None of the responses I received believed faith in God involved expecting God to grant personal requests. For example, Bob wrote, “I think that trust in others is a surrogate for trust in God. We trust others, because we believe that at some level God has made a generally good creation which he calls us to enjoy and improve. I don’t particularly trust God to “do things” for me. I thank him for making a world where it is possible for me to do things for myself and others to make both my world and their world better.”

After reporting how her expectations of God have changed over the years, Rita wrote, “Faith helps to get us through the disappointments, but now I have come to trust that whatever and whoever Godde is, Godde has my best interests at heart. I need to do whatever it takes to do the right and good, as my conscience sees it. After that, I pray to accept the consequences of my decision and the vagaries of life. Sometimes it will rain on my parade, and sometimes it will be warm and sunny, but the weather just “is.” I have to love rainy days and sunny days–and if you live in Pittsburgh, lots of gray days and snowy ones. I am happier now than I’ve ever been because I’ve freed God from taking care of me! I have come to adulthood in the faith, and it’s a good place to be. Faith and trust are hard to define, but I think, like pornography, I know it when I see it.”

I don’t think we come to that understanding by simply observing either nature or human actions. Buddhism seems right when it claims suffering pretty much characterizes what happens on this planet. Faith in others and this world derives from faith in the Father of Christ Jesus, and that amounts to trusting the promises inherent in the biblical story. Years ago one of my favorite theologians summarized Christianity as story and promise. That has always worked for me- not accepting rational propositions or traditional doctrines but being overwhelmed by the history of salvation Christians proclaim.

And that enables us to see things as Bob and Rita do. The beauty of our creation story is its proclamation that change is possible. The world might be filled with suffering, but this is only because God’s originally good creation has been corrupted, and we have been involved. However, if what was good is made bad, it can be corrected. The history of salvation presents God doing just that.

The beauty of Holy Week is its story of Jesus, the ultimately good man who is executed as a threat to this corrupted society. What could have been life as usual, just another Greek tragedy, becomes promise when God raises Jesus and with him raises us. Faith is to trust this promise of a new and better world. To truly trust is to become part of its salvation.

How does Christianity as fundamentally story and promise work for you?

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