Friday, March 28, 2014

What is Faith?

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.     Hebrews 11:1

What is faith? There are those who think faith means simply believing in God or in Jesus as our savior. But, James 2: 19 points out even demons believe that much. Others think faith means believing hard enough (can you see the child with fists tightened and eyes squeezed shut) that God will heal an illness or solve a problem of some kind. 

In the last few weeks, I have been given different words for understanding faith. I’ve been reading The Strategically Small Church by Brandon J. O’Brien. As I have read, the book has constantly asked me, “Do you believe that God is at work in and through your congregation?” Well, maybe not in exactly those words, but that’s the gist of it. 

At the same time, I have been exploring the role of anxiety in our lives. It seems to me that anxiety says “I don’t trust God to be at work in this. I don’t believe God’s got this and I had better start making things happen or I’m going to be in big trouble.”

So I began to wonder if a good working definition of faith at any given moment might be: “Do I trust God (through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit) is at work in this?”  Do I trust that God is at work in my life? In the lives of my son and husband? In the lives of my parishioners? In the life of my congregation?  I think I’m going to live with that for a while and see what comes of it.

What about you? Do you have a definition of faith? Do you trust that God is at work in your life? In your family’s lives? In you church?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Complaining and Forgiving

 And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

Many years ago with my son was a student at a Lutheran preschool, the teachers taught the children not only to say, "I'm sorry", but to also say, "I forgive you." One day after my son offered a litany of complaints about another boy in his class, I explained that forgiving someone means we don't complain about it any more. Boy did that come back to bite me the next time he did something that displeased me. I heard my own words come out of his mouth, "Mom, 'I forgive you' means we don't complain about it any more."

Lately, I've learned that the connection between complaining and forgiveness goes both directions. You see, I've been working to not complain in the last few weeks. I have discovered that in order to stop from complaining about someone (either out loud or in my internal monologue), I also must forgive them. This has truly been eye opening for me. As I have listened to myself and the things I say or think, I have become aware of hurts and anger I've been holding on to for quite a while. So my journey into less complaining has really become a journey into forgiveness.

What about you? Have you ever explored the link between our complaints and a lack of forgiveness?