Faith is a multi-faceted thing, don’t you think? In my many years of religious experience, I’ve had lots of opportunities to be educated about what *faith* is. Can you relate to any of these?
When I was a child, I was in a denomination that only used the word *faith* in the phrase *saving faith*.
Once I had confessed that I was a sinner and believed that God raised Christ from the dead (accepted Christ’s sacrifice), I had a saving faith. That was cool, but eventually I needed *faith* to be more than insurance against hell.
I had some learning time in a fundamentalist denomination where not only do you receive a saving faith but you learn that faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17 KJV).
So learning the word of God (Scripture) was the way you helped your faith to come (or grow). That makes sense to me: How can I truly have a relationship with someone if I don’t know what they:
- have done
- do now
- how they talk?
I learn about God from Scripture. In that fundamentalist denomination we focused on the Scripture:
2 Timothy 3:16: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for instruction, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (KJV)
Respect for Scripture and eagerness to learn about God through His word was strengthening to my faith, but it seems to me that faith is more than that.
Then I had some fun but name-it-and-claim-it… or *Word* churches. They took a totally different view about God. This *faith* was about God looking out for US.
In a harsh and uncaring world, I found it a great relief to know that God loves me and cares about the minutiae of my life. This kind of faith taught that Scripture knowledge was the door to growing faith so that I could know God better and be rewarded by receiving what we will.
It was sort of on the *God is a cosmic vending machine: I do my part and He’s required to do His part*. One of the big Scriptures we were taught was John 15: 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you. (KJV)
After a while, I got tired of it. However, I do believe that faith is a thing that grows. It is fed by knowing who God is, by loving Him, and by time with Him. My faith tells me God cares about all the parts of my life. But I wanted more.
Recently, I was reading in Luke 17 during morning devotions. It is the story of faith and gratitude. Here is the story (thanks to BibleGateway.com)
11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole. (KJV)
It seemed to me that Jesus was appreciating the leper’s gratitude. Jesus was connecting faith and gratitude and healing for the leper.
What this story said to me is that gratitude is a KIND of FAITH.
Luke 17 affirmed to me what I’ve already been experiencing. As a prayer discipline, I’ve been keeping a daily written gratitude list for about a year now. As I’ve noted the big and small things that I have to be grateful for, it has helped me calibrate my soul with the way that God does things. This has, I believe, given me a deeper and quieter faith.
I had never thought of faith and gratitude as being interconnected. It was a *twist on faith* for me.
Understanding faith is a journey for me. So far I’ve learned that there’s:
- Saving faith
- Faith that grows as we learn about God through Scripture
- Faith in a God who looks out for us
- Faith given back to God in the form of gratitude
What have you discovered about faith? What helps your faith grow?
A Little Twist on Faith