Warning: This post is a result of my meanderings through an informal word study. These are simply my ponderings about what some words mean to me. They are not the be all, end all definitions. As you will see one train of thought pulls into the station only to send another one off in a differnt direction. My understandings have evolved even in the writing of the post, and I'm sure I won't stop learning and growing now that I've written them down for all the world to see. I hope this post is simply a trigger for your own consideration of what it means to keep and/or lose faith and I hope you will share your ponderings in the comments.
The first scripture reading my devotional sent me to this morning was Psalm 116. The Psalmist talks about having kept faith in a time of trial.
My second scripture reading this morning was Jeremiah 3: 1 - 14. This is only one of the places in scripture when the metaphor of an unfaithful wife is used to describe the breaking, bending, or tearing of the relationship between humans and God. In the Jeremiah passage, Israel and Judah have both soiled their relationship with God by turning to false worship and false gods. In other words, seeking to have their desires and needs met through someone or something other than God.
In marriage we often think of being unfaithful as seeking to meet one's sexual or emotional desires and needs through someone other than one's spouse. But there are other ways in which we often fail to stay faithful to our marriage vows and to the one we love. Marriages fall apart due to neglect of the relationship much more often than they are torn apart due to one or the other partner having an affair. So too is it often with our relationship with God. When we fail to tend to our relationship with Christ, we find ourselves moving away from a God centered life and slipping into me centered living.
As I began to think about this blog post, I began to explore the words and phrases that have faith as their root; faithful, faithless, unfaithful, having faith, keeping faith, loosing faith. To have faith is not only to believe in something, but also to trust in it. To lose faith rarely means losing one's belief. More often it refers to losing one's trust. In it's definition of faith, Miraim Webster refers not only to belief and trust, but also to loyalty.
To be faithful to God requires us to continually remembering and honoring our commitment to God and God's commitment to us. But loyalty is more than that. Loyalty is a sense of dedication that grows not out of shoulds or have tos. It grows out of our devotion for the person, organization, or for God. It grows out of love, not out of rules or expectations. Perhaps this is what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 5 and 6 when he talks about moving above and beyond the law.
If loyalty is action born out of love, then keeping faith is about more than keeping one's trust. It is also about continuing to act according to one's faith. Keeping faith in God means continuing to believe and trust as well as living out that belief and trust in our relationships, in our actions, in our choices, and in our world view. Keeping faith means attending to our relationship with God.
Like I said earlier, just some thoughts about what some words mean to me. What do the words faith, faithful, unfaithful, faithless, keeping faith, losing faith, and having faith mean to you?