Words are fascinating. On the one hand they have the power to form us, influence us, build up or tear down. But on the other hand, if we don't believe what we are saying then our words are meaningless. This series of blogs continues to look at words that have become the fabric of our Christian vocabulary. Words that are originally intended to communicate relationship but now can give off an air of religion to all of us but especially to those who are disillusioned with Christianity or have been hurt by Christians and their beliefs.
Faith. Sometimes this word is literally used as a synonym for religion. What faith are you? What is your faith? Did you have a faith you grew up with? Other times we use faith like it means the same as belief. I have faith (I believe) that this or that will happen. We forget that we can actually believe a lie which is the complete antithesis of faith. While faith has an element of belief it does not equal belief.
But here's why I almost never use the word faith anymore. When I use the word faith in regards to another person, for example, I have faith in my wife, it is generally understood that I am saying I trust her. In this context the relational dynamic that exists between us is clear.
But when I listen to how we use faith in our services or any setting in regards to God, many times it gives the impression that faith is something that puts the onus more on me than on the relationship. Have faith. You need more faith. Take a step of faith. Increase your faith. It almost sounds like the message being sent is that we just need to believe more...believe harder.
So now I almost always substitute the word faith with trust and dependence. Trust is always one of the words used to define faith. While the idea of faith can float back and forth between an air of religion or relationship, the word trust is firmly rooted in the idea of relationship.
Faith in God also includes dependence. Trust and dependence may sound similar but there is also a distinction. Trust in God says I know he is true to his word. Dependence on God says I cannot do it, make it, or survive it without him. When the scriptures talk about faith being a gift, or the faith God has distributed to each of us, I believe this is referring to the capacity to trust and depend on him.
Some may argue that it's just semantics and that may be true on some level. But what I've discovered is this...everyone can relate to relationship. The more we can use words to communicate relationship the more bridges we will build instead of walls. Worship equals relationship. Relationship is the purpose of life. Worship is life!