Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Faith in what?

Faith. It's a name we give to children. It's a theme of ancient hymns as well as contemporary pop songs. It's even used as a comprehensive term for a person's religious beliefs (e.g., "What is your faith?"). As believers, the very term that identifies us stems from the word 'faith.' "To believe" is mereley the verb form of the noun "faith" in the Greek. So believers are essentially people of faith. But what does that phrase mean in society today?

Last night the President gave an address from the oval office dealing with the BP oil spill crisis and the administration's response to it. At the close of his speech, he made some remarks to inspire hope to Americans. However, his words highlighted the subtle tragedy concerning the "faith" of many Americans. He stated, "It’s a faith in the future that sustains us as a people. It is that same faith that sustains our neighbors in the Gulf right now." After a brief reflection about the "blessing of the fleet" given by clergy from different religions and a quotation from a priest about God's abiding presence, the president then concluded, "The oil spill is not the last crisis America will face. This nation has known hard times before and we will surely know them again. What sees us through -– what has always seen us through –- is our strength, our resilience, and our unyielding faith that something better awaits us if we summon the courage to reach for it."

Now perhaps the president's desire was to point Americans toward something or someone greater than themselves, but unfortunately that did not seem to be what he said. That last sentence I quoted gives evidence to the contrary, "What sees us through -– what has always seen us through –- is our strength, our resilience, and our unyielding faith that something better awaits us if we summon the courage to reach for it."

Where is faith placed in that sentence? The focus is clearly on American's own strength, resilience, and courage to reach for something better. The end of the faith that the president spoke of was simply a better tomorrow based on our own efforts. Now I don't want to misrepresent the president or be unjustly harsh, so I will reiterate that he does make some references to God and even prays that "a hand may guide us through the storm to a brighter day." I'm sure that there are plenty of atheists outraged that the president of the United States would make such references to God.

I certainly hope that the faith he referred to is more than merely faith in humanity's strength and resilience to bring something better. Unfortunately, his reference to God struck me as cursory and his reference to faith as a description of the misplaced faith that so many Americans hold on to. They think that just by believing generally or believing in themselves they can have that "better tommorow."

The object of faith must always be in the Lord Jesus Christ. It's not faith in ourselves, it's not faith in itself, and it's not even faith in God in a generic sense. The only effectual faith is faith in the Triune God (Father, Son, and Spirit) who became a man in the person of Jesus the Christ and died on the cross for our sins and rose on the third day.

As born again Christians, we are believers in the Triune God of the Bible who revealed Himself incarnationally through Jesus the Christ. That is who we believe in. When someone speaks of faith or says he or she believes, you should ask that person what his or her faith is in?

"I'm a believer!" Americans may shout. But a believer in what? The answer to that question has eternal ramifications.

1 comment:

  1. Even atheists can have faith, and believe in God. :0) I agree our faith has to be in Jesus, not ourselves. Thanks for the reminder. :0)