Monday, November 26, 2012

The Romance of Faith (Central Things, Part 1)

"If you will not believe, then surely you shall not be established." Is. 7:9

Faith is central to the Christian life. This is Sunday School 101 for many, but the basics are always the first to be forgotten, or at least diluted. That is the problem with so-called "Sunday school answers": not that they are simple (for that is a point in their favor), but that they can be deemed inconsequential because they are simple. They are mistaken for the icing on the cake, when in reality they are more like the foundation stones of a house: subsumed beneath the greater structure, yet ever-present and always necessary. Yet we too easily cruise right over what is holding the whole edifice erect. Faith is one of those foundational things. Without it, we have no leg to stand on.

The reason faith is central is because it is about trust, which should be obvious but is often missed. We have a "relationship" with God (as anti-religion types are quick to tell us), and central to any relationship is trust: between spouses, family members, or friends. Without trust, there is no relationship. Acquaintance, maybe, but not relationship. We can have knowledge (either factual or guess work) of another person, but that's equally reason to keep them at arm's length. A true relationship knows no "arm's length". It comes close, too close for comfort unless there is trust, i.e., confidence in who the other person is and what they will do. That trust is the common knowledge of all unions, whether they be between causal friends or intimate lovers.

It is also the secret beauty of Christian faith. Faith is not an act of religious duty (and it is certainly not against reason); rather, it is proof of how seriously God takes His union with us. He wants to be close; "danger close," as soldiers say. That is why He doesn't often (if ever) ask us to understand Him, but He does ask us to believe Him, to trust Him, to lay hold of Him as He has laid hold of us and take the wild dive into the unknown. Unknown to us, but known to Him. That is the romance of faith.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2012

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