Monday, February 27, 2012

Walking Faith & Religion

It's easy to talk a good talk about faith. "Faith is belief in that which is unseen but still known," we might say, or "faith gives my life meaning." There's nothing wrong with these statements, but they can direct us toward a pietistic, quietist approach to the world if we are not careful, distracting us from the need to build the Kingdom of God (or, perhaps better, God's House) through our work for justice and peace. Talking faith is easy. What can each of us do to make sure we have a "walking faith?"

If I have a walking faith, it must be that describing my faith is not just describing what I "believe," but rather, describing how my faith impacts me, and what I do in the world as a response to that faith. The thoughts below represent a kind of exercise in which I explore my faith as a "walking faith." This exercise consists of four parts: saying something about the content of my faith, explaining what my faith offers me, considering what my faith demands of me (how I am called to respond to it), and attending to the question of how I keep my faith strong in difficult times. I encourage all justice-focused people of faith to examine our faith lives, and hope that this four-part exercise is helpful in freeing us, strengthening us, and in evoking delight, compassion and love more fully within us.

Most simply, I have faith in God, particularly in the God described by Jesus: gracious, compassionate, welcoming, incredibly inclusive, freely loving, delighted by all that is Her creation. I have faith that this God is at work in us when we make decisions and take actions that are about loving ourselves, our neighbors and the Holy.

I have faith that God is bigger than human doubt, hate and fear. I have faith that nothing, not even death, can separate us from God's love unless we ourselves turn our backs on it, and that even then, God is at work in a hundred ways to turn us back around. I have faith that "repentance" is available to anyone who needs it, not because we are terrible people, but because there is always "more light," more love and acceptance to be received. I have faith that God has the capacity to free us from our (self-) hatred and (self-) destructive tendencies, so that we may live in gratitude and build God's House on earth.

I have faith that "all is well" in some ultimate sense, though......

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