Let me list the points our discussion has made so far: Faith is trusting God. It includes trusting also the goodness of his creation. That means we must trust God’s love in spite of what we observe humans doing to one another and what we remember they did to Jesus. To trust God is to live in his love.
I’m surprised I did not receive more calls for qualifications in light of the violent and acquisitive world in which we live. We are constantly rationalizing our acquiescence to the ways of the society and our ignoring of God’s will.
Let me offer some examples of how the New Testament sees this working out. Hebrews 11: 1-3 and I Peter 1: 5-9 agree faith goes beyond what we see around us. I Timothy 4: 1-12 and Romans 14: 13-23 say it reveals God made everything good, so we need not practice any kind of unusual spiritual discipline, such as observing special days or diets. Timothy puts it rather colorfully when he says faith keeps us from being carried away by “deceitful spirits, demoniac teaching, lying hypocrisy, or old wives’ tales”. That’s a pretty good description of what we hear when we turn on the radio and television.
We all know passages, such as Matthew 17: 20, that promise faith can move mountains. I imagine most of us do not take this literally and so do not test it in our prayers. We suspect the context shows the promises refer to being in a proper faith relationship with God who made the mountains and therefore can move them for us, if he wants to.
When Jesus moves from such hyperbole, he can get far more particular about faith’s function. In Luke 17:1-5 he says faith enables us to forgive other people’s sins seventy times seven times. Our new life enables us to offer new life to others; thereby participating in God’s healing of his creation.
We probably also remember a number of times when Jesus told those he healed their faith had made them well, indicating faith makes us whole people (Mark 10: 52). In fact, passages as Matthew 6: 24-34 picture faith trusting God to satisfy all our needs, even food and clothing. He promises to be there when we need him in the midst of life’s storms (Mark 4: 35-41), and especially in persecution (I Peter 1: 5-9).
These are simply passages in which the word “faith” is found. In many ways, the entire Christian life can be portrayed as a life of faith that trusts the promises God makes through Jesus. The secret of the good life is trusting Jesus’ Father who is able to fulfill his promises rather than the host of pretenders out there tempting us with hollow promises. Is such a life possible?