I've been thinking a great deal about faith lately. Several other people have mentioned it over the past two weeks. One friend asked, "what if I get to the end of my life and realize I am unfulfilled?" Good question. I've been struggling lately, with how to attack the issue of faith. Perhaps by instinct, I started reading Romans again. I always go back to Romans, because I never truly understand it all. I'm sure after I read it 40 times, I'll still be far away from unraveling all the mysteries.
So, our good friend Paul says, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And (emphasis mine) we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God." What? What does this mean?
For those of us Christians who have spent our entire lives in the Church, this is a beguiling statement. In some ways, our faith is an elemental thing. Something that we know is there but don't really understand. New Christians don't have this luxury, I think. They can clearly remember a time when they were without faith, and they second guess themselves more often. However, their faith is fiercer, stronger, even, than the faith of older Christians (such as myself). They are on the Christian Yo-Yo diet. The seasoned veterans fall into the trap of blind faith, which can quickly lead to spiritual death. Going through the motions, and not really knowing why you bother.
This brings us to a serious problem. Ex-Christians. They have lost faith. They say to themselves, "I don't really believe this anymore. Why should I continue to live as if I do?" How is it that I have not lost faith? I've been asking this question so much lately. How am I any different from so many other people who grew up in the Church and left after being disgusted with the way most Christians behave? Have I been brainwashed? Do I fear the unknown? Am I comfortable in my established routine?
I have no idea. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is where faith comes in. I can't describe it. All I know is that it is there, always at the back of my mind. It's there when somehow, ends meet. It's there when I see doors open (and when I see them close). It's in my family and friends. It's there when I stand on the beach and brave an approaching squall atop a jetty. This may all sound very sentimental, but these raw, unadulterated moments of faith remind me of who I am.
Many people do not stop to think about faith moments. They don't see them for what they really are. They are shrouded, and they lose most of their surreal beauty. Lately, though, I have seen non-believers recognize God and his hand upon their lives. It is a strange, elating thing to sense the rebirth of faith. And as Paul says, there is only one thing to do in such a circumstance, "rejoice in the hope of the glory of God."