Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Righteous Will Live by Faith

Very often when we think about what it means to "have faith" we think of this in terms of a very abstract, distant thing- a "belief" that we hold about God. Frequently having faith in Jesus means that we believe that he is real, or we believe (in a very abstract sense) that he is the savior who forgives our sins. Which we should, those are all good beliefs to hold. But James tells us that even the demons believe these things. So what separates holding these beliefs from faith?

In thinking about what Paul means when he discusses our faith, its important to look back at where he is drawing a lot of his information from in the Old Testament. Paul makes the statement that the righteous live by faith, a statement he derives from Habakkuk. How does Habakkuk understand faith. In a lengthy vision or prophecy, he describes the contrast between those who are wicked- those who serve themselves and trust in their own ability to accomplish what they want- and the righteous- those who trust in God to make everything right in the future, who are not violent or treacherous but are obedient to God, humble, and compassionate to others. It seems that from the standpoint of Habakkuk, faith is not an abstract belief in God or in a theological claim. Faith is much more personal than that. Faith is a guiding principle, a trust in God to accomplish what he says he will accomplish. As a result of this faith, we are certain kinds of people, we live a certain way. Without some-sort of response, faith is worthless. James and Paul will both make that point very clear in the New Testament. Faith is very much rooted in who we are and how we live, not in what we say we "believe."

So in light of this, here is a question to ponder: What is the source of our faith? What causes us to have faith or where do we get our faith from? What makes our faith "real," causes us to live as those with faith in God and not as those who put our trust in ourselves?

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