I was talking to a friend last night about faith. We touched on different aspects related to faith, including doubt, atheism, and agnosticism. On my way home I got to thinking about it a bit more and I realised again that everyone of us lives by faith every day of our lives. Faith is not something that believers in God live by; that’s just a different aspect of faith. As I sit on my chair writing this post, I’m exercising faith that the chair won’t collapse under me. When you eat your cereal tomorrow morning, you will be exercising faith that there is nothing poisonous in it and that it won’t kill you. And so it goes on. Everything we do in life requires the exercise of faith. We are not consciously aware that all of what we do is done by faith, but it most definitely is.
In thinking about this and how it relates to what we normally call faith, that is, faith in God and its manifestation in our lives, I soon realised that a position of agnosticism is not enough. Someone told me years ago that agnosticism is not just sitting on the fence, it is taking a position. I believe life is to be lived to its full. I believe that life was actually designed to be lived to its full, and that means to go further in our exercise of faith than we have previously.
To that end, I believe that faith in a God I cannot see is the ultimate act of faith. It is not blind faith. That would be superstition. It is a reasonable faith, a rational faith if you like. It is a faith that is based on what someone has deduced as the evidence. It is thought through and then, having made a decision about it, it is lived out. We become more human the more we live by faith. As St Paul said long ago, ‘this life I live, I live by faith in the Son of God’.
The more we live by faith, the more we jump into the arms of a loving God, the more like Christ we become. It is said that we become like that which we worship. Our lives are a worship of something. When our lives are a worship of Jesus, we become more like him. It was Irenaeus who said “the glory of God is a human being fully alive”. When we exercise faith in Christ, when we live this out in our lives each day, we love more. We live out what St Paul called ‘the most excellent way’.
Faith allows us to become more human. It is a risk, it can be frightening, but it is life. We either move forward into it or we retreat into our cocoons. C.S Lewis said it brilliantly:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”
This is what living by faith is. This is the adventure, not just of a lifetime, but of an eternity.