The Problem of Faith

What has happened to faith in our world?  Faith has turned into something it was never intended to be.  Faith is NOT blindly following a person, a book, or a so-called god.

Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, proof of things not seen.
— Hebrews 11:1

Many if not most Christians have probably seen that quote before, but few have investigated what it means.  There are two words that we have to pay special attention to:

  1. assurance means foundation
  2. proof means that by which a thing is tested

So we could read Hebrews to say, "Now faith is the foundation of things hoped for, faith is the way we test and prove things not seen. "  That is a very different definition of faith than the one normally proffered.  Faith is not fixed or blind, it is earned and tested until it is proven to be true or false, then tested again.

When we allow faith to be cheapened, we steal one of the greatest powers a believer has.

But God, being rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have you been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus; for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, that no one would boast.
— Paul, Ephesians 2:4-9

Faith is a gift from God, so that no one can boast.  O, how often have we heard people boast about their faith?  That is how we know they have none.

If faith is a gift, and is the foundation of things hoped for and the way we test and prove things not seen, how do we get some?

Faith is the first of the Five Powers

  1. Faith
  2. Effort
  3. Mindfulness
  4. Concentration
  5. Wisdom

Faith empowers Effort.  Effort builds Mindfulness.  Mindfulness forges Concentration. Concentration strengthens Wisdom.  Wisdom fuels Faith.  So how do we start the cycle?

Test all things, and hold firmly that which is good.
— Paul, 1 Thessalonians 5:21

We start with the test.  When we are told that meditation will bring more stability to our minds, we try it.  When I first started meditating, I was unsure as to whether it would work.  So my faith was in the idea that meditation might stabilize my mind.  My effort was to try meditating.  I mindfully paid attention to whether or not meditation was helping me.  I concentrated on the actions I was taking, and studied the topic to make sure I was doing it right.  I grew in wisdom, not only of technique, but in the assurance that the technique was working for me.  That wisdom grew my faith in meditation and the cycle continued.

My faith in meditation did not come from my works.  Meditation works.  All I did was test and see that it was good.  My test did not make it true.  It was already true.  I received that first kernel of faith and took action to test it.  I did not earn the benefits of meditation or the knowledge.

This same process happens everyday for so many things.  It is how faith comes to us all in everything from whether or not our family loves us, to what we want to have for dinner.  Faith is part of a process.  The more our experience validates that faith, the stronger that faith becomes.

When faith is built on lies, fear, or bias, it has no power.  It is hollow and unable to console us.  It breeds anger, hatred, and mistrust.  These are the signs that faith is faulty.  

If faith leads to boasting, or that any one or any thing is greater or less than us, then that faith is not only false, it is a poison.  That is not faith it is bias or bigotry, which are born out of the five poisons:

  1. Ignorance
  2. Attachment
  3. Aversion
  4. Pride
  5. Envy

Faith does not ask us to reject knowledge.  Faith leads to Wisdom which controls Ignorance.

Faith does not cause us to blindly hold onto any thought, person, or things to the point where it causes suffering to let it go.  Faith continually tests all things and holds only to what is good.

Faith does not drive us to hate.  Hatred destroys us.  It is a fire in the soul that destroys all it touches.  Hatred is never Mindful nor Wise.

Faith does not breed arrogance.  There is nothing to boast about in receiving a free gift.

Faith does not agitate us to have what others have or make good that comes to others unbearable.

Faith is a gift, and is the foundation of things hoped for and the way we test and prove things not seen.  That is True Faith. 

The Law is abolished and we are One People in Christ Jesus

As we continue our study in the fourth of the Five Powers, Concentration (samādhi), we need to dig deeper into the revelation and wisdom we seek from the Holy Spirit.  As we dig deeper into the mystery, we see the work of Reconciliation that Christ has performed through the Cross and the Shedding of his Precious Blood.

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility
— Eph 2:14-16

Christ is our Peace

In the broken duality of the world, there were two types of people in the world, the Children of the Promise and the Children of Wrath.  The Children of the Promise were the descendants of Abraham.  The only way to enter the promise was to be born into the tribe, or to submit oneself to the Law of Moses, given by men and angels (De 4:14; Acts 7:53; Gal 3:19; Heb 2:2), but Christ put an end to the Law, did away with the Commandments, annulled obligations, and abolished the requirements of the Law, and set us free to live according to the Spirit.

Jesus was crucified for blasphemy (Matt 26:65-66; Mark 14:63-64; Luke 22:71). The Law condemned God to death for blasphemy showing how it had departed from God. So at the crucifixion, the veil of the temple was ripped in two (Matt 27:51). We were exchanged from the  law of Moses and saved by the life Christ taught us to live.  All people are recreated in Christ into one people. 

Through this mystery, we see that there are no real differences between people.  The only differences that exist are the ones we pretend are there.  Our imagination can make these seem and feel real, but they are illusions we create to preserve our sense of separateness, and often superiority.

As we learn to see the One Christ that holds all things together, we learn to see how the suffering of others is our suffering.  Another person's pain is our pain, and their healing is our healing.

We are the body of Christ.  It is our mission and duty to work out this reconciliation in the world and to be a constant voice for peace.

Peace is the Central act of the Christian life.

Christ restored us to live as the Image of God in this world.  He made peace between us and God.  We continue this work by first making peace with ourselves, and then with our neighbors.

We experience this mystery through meditation, where we enter the peace of God at the Gate of Zion.  This peace is the root of compassion for ourselves and others.

As we live our lives, we must learn to allow the voice of Christ to speak through us.  The voice of Christ is peace and compassion.  Everything that goes against peace and compassion eclipses the Light of God, and becomes a stumbling block.

Concentration (samādhi) is the strength to stand against this darkness.  We develop concentration through meditation and mindfulness.  The more we keep the realities and facts of life before us, the more we will see the pains and problems that are the real roots of the situations we face in life.  We must develop a mindful awareness of the circumstances others live within.  Once we understand the pain at the root of the problem, we can begin to develop a salve for the issue.

Humility is the Root of Mindfulness

This week we are focusing on another of the 5 Strengths: Mindfulness.  Mindfulness is both the conscious living in the present moment, and the clear awareness of things as they are.  We chose to develop our mindfulness by focusing on the soul trait of Humility.

Humility is not what you think it is.  Humility is the one of the middle points between arrogance and self-effacement.  The other middle point in Pride.  While I know I really need to work on developing some Pride, this week is about humility.

Humility is occupying the space you are suppose to occupy.  A student is humble when they submit to the instruction of their teacher.  A teacher is humble when they take the lead and guide their students.

This quality depends on our circumstances and even our environment.  We must be mindful not to take up too much space or shrink from the space we should fill.

This has been a core problem of mine for a long time.  My issues with self-esteem have cause me to shrink into myself and not to take my proper role in many aspects of my life.  From my spiritual practice to my business, from my personal relationships to how I take care of myself. 

What is most interesting is that the more I shrank away from the role I should play in my own life and the lives of others, I have grown fatter and more out of shape.  It is like I compensated for my lack of proper space by taking up more physical space.

In my own life, I need to speak up when I need to, and take the actions I should take.  Discerning those places will not be easy, but it something I need to do.

Are you taking up the space you should take in your own life?  If you are not taking up enough, how will you expand yourself to take your proper space?  If you take up too much space, how will you reign in your ego to fit the space you have broken out of?