The essence of faith

Thoughts about the center of our lives
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Dear Reader,

This post (please read it here) is currently the last in this series. Due to the extremely large amount of duties, which reached me in my life in parallel, I had to suspend the blog. Many thanks for reading my essays so far! If you are a new visitor, please have a look to the 58 essays published here between 2017 and 2020. Wishing you safe times and a New Normality after the 2020 corona virus pandemic,

Peter Csermely

 


1. What we mistakenly believe about faith. Faith is not a task. Faith does not have any advantage or objective. We do not believe to be rewarded. Faith is not a barter trade. „I believe in You, my Lord, and You take care of my salvation in return.” Faith is not a refuge that is used by people only when getting into a big trouble. We do not pray because we want to reach something that otherwise cannot be reached but… We do not go to a congregation because it helps us spiritually or because that’s how we can live an honest life but… (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

2. How to put the essence of faith in words? „Faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not.” (Hebrews 11:1) As Calvin pointed out, this sentence, which almost alone „defines” faith in the Bible, naturally cannot give a complete description about the nature of faith. At the same time it provides us with three very important clues: that of hope, trust and confidence. The one who believes, trusts in things hoped for and is convinced of the meaning of life, his own place in the world, his love relation with Jesus, his future, the good order of his life and death despite of that he cannot see all this with his own eyes. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 


3. Faith as a subjective confession. For me faith is accepting mercy. Faith and its deepening are continuous events in our lives. Faith is a state of being. In the 18th-19th century’s France St. John Vianney was famous for that the line of those whose complaints and grievances he heard snaked in front of his church from morning to evening. He owed a lot to an old peasant who did nothing but only sitting in his church for days. Then he went to the old man: "May I ask you what you are doing here?” "I am not doing anything, I am just sitting here and looking at Christ. And He is looking at me.” For me this story (about contemplation which leads us to action) is somehow the essence of faith. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 


 

1. What we mistakenly believe about faith

 

We do not believe because "after all we have to believe in something”. We do not believe because "after all it is better to sit in a church than in a pub.” Our faith is not because "religion doesn’t do any harm to my daughter: at least she learns obedience towards her parents”. Faith is not a task. Faith does not have any advantage or objective. We do not believe to be rewarded. Faith is not a barter trade. "I believe in You, my Lord, and You take care of my salvation in return.” Faith is not a refuge that is used by people only when getting into a big trouble. We do not pray because we want to reach something that otherwise cannot be reached but because it is a beautiful thing to discuss our most important things with our Lord. We do not go to a congregation because it helps us spiritually or because that’s how we can live an honest life but because we can rejoice in the word of God together and because here we can share the sacraments, the happiness and the certainty of our faiths and lives with our brothers and sisters who have lived them, too.

 


 

2. How to put the essence of faith in words?

 

"Faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not.” (Hebrews 11:1) As Calvin pointed out, this sentence, which almost alone „defines” faith in the Bible, naturally cannot give a complete description about the nature of faith. At the same time it provides us with three very important clues: that of hope, trust and confidence. Our first clue is hope. In these difficult times, in the months of distress the word of the apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans is just for us: "we glory also in tribulations, knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience trial; and trial hope; and hope confoundeth not: because the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Spirit, who is given to us." (Romans 5:3b-5) Our second clue is trust. Trust in things hoped for. The original Greek word standing for trust, i.e. „hypostasis”, represents basis, essence and the mode of existence. Trust is the mode of existence of the believer. What do we trust? Our money? Our relations? Not at all! We trust in things hoped for: in God’s promise that does not remain unfulfilled. In Jesus’ redemptive sacrifice that is completed and eternal. We trust in Jesus who promised to be with us "I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world” (Matthew 28,20). Our third clue is confidence. It is a belief in the existence of invisible things. What is that? A collection of beliefs? Not at all! The one who believes, trusts in things hoped for and is convinced of the meaning of life, his own place in the world, his love relation with Jesus, his future, the good order of his life and death despite of that he cannot see all this with his own eyes. Jesus told the incredulous apostle Thomas when after his resurrection he appeared to him in the Gospel of John: "Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed.” (John 20:29).

 


 

3. Faith as a subjective confession

 

For me faith is accepting mercy. Faith and its deepening are continuous events in our lives. Faith is a state of being. Faith creates order in our lives. Faith makes peace and happiness. God gives an incomprehensible, powerful, loving foundation for faith. Christ gives a direction for faith, the direction of the cross and salvation, the direction of the alpha and omega, the path, the truth and life. And the Holy Spirit gives movement and speed for faith. In the 18th-19th century’s France St. John Vianney was famous for that the line of those whose complaints and grievances he heard snaked in front of his church from morning to evening. He owed a lot to an old peasant who did nothing but only sitting in his church for days. Then he went to the old man: "May I ask you what you are doing here?” "I am not doing anything, I am just sitting here and looking at Christ. And He is looking at me.” For me this story (about contemplation which leads us to action) is somehow the essence of faith.

 

 

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