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Yesterday I began listing some of the things I mention in O Me of Little Faith as being “the things I know for sure.” For reasons of brevity, in the book, I framed this list according to the content of the Sermon on the Mount.
If faith is holding onto and practicing the things you do have certainty about, then here’s what my faith looks like, from pages 196-198 in OMOLF.
• I believe that seeking the kingdom of God should be high up on our priority list, and that a life lived with eyes open to God’s work in the world is the best kind of life. (Matthew 6:33)
• I believe that God is aware of and moved by the suffering of his children. I want to believe that God will provide for his children, as the passage says, but a realistic glimpse at impoverished or persecuted Christians around the world tells me that my idea of “providing” and God’s idea of providing aren’t necessarily the same. (Matthew 6:25-34)
• I believe it’s best not to judge others, because I’m sinful enough that the pot/kettle/blackness of it is just plain laughable. I have planks coming out of my eyes at all angles, so I’d rather deal with people by showing too much grace than too much judgment. (Matthew 7:1-5)
• I believe that the others-oriented focus of the Golden Rule–doing unto others as you would have them do unto you–doesn’t just sum up the Law and the Prophets but is the height of human morality. Christian or otherwise, you can’t go wrong living by this creed. (Matthew 7:12)
• I believe that our Christianity is determined less by what we say or claim and more by the fruit we produce, otherwise known as the stuff we do. (Matthew 7:15-23)
• I believe a person who follows the teachings of Christ is well-prepared to weather the whole gamut of human storms, from grief to heartache to failure to disappointment. There are few stronger foundations for dealing with life’s challenges. (Matthew 7:24-27)
• Stepping briefly outside the Sermon on the Mount, I believe that actions of following Jesus can be best summed up by the Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40), that there is something powerful about sharing the bread and the wine of communion with fellow believers in Jesus Christ (Luke 22:19-20), and that grace is a radically life-changing idea in a world that operates on karma.
No, this isn’t a complete list. But these things, which were taught and modeled by Jesus, are things I believe to be true. And as I mention in the book, I also know that their relationship with faith is a synergistic one. Loving others, serving others, and forgiving others are actions that a person might take as a result of faith. But they are also actions that, when pursued, will deepen and even sustain faith.
Faith and action work together. In fact, they might just be the same thing.