31 Mar Live by faith
By Mark McDonald
There is a story in the Christian tradition of a father who comes to Jesus, asking him to heal his son. Jesus responds, “All things can be done for the one who believes.” The father replies with a most profound statement, probably one that seems to echo how most of us feel in today’s political and cultural climates: “Lord, I believe; help me in my unbelief” (Mark 9:23-24).
Doesn’t that sound like how many of us feel today?! It’s hard to know what or who to believe, because two people can have strongly held beliefs that seem at odds with each other. Religious groups may be even more likely to see this. Sincere, faithful followers often claim strong, certain beliefs that conflict with other sincere, faithful followers, even in the same religious body!
This can be much more personal, too. Can you think of a time you felt strongly that you needed to do something but didn’t know if you could do it? Or perhaps you wanted to do something that you knew was right but also worried that others would think you’d lost your mind (or, even worse, would think you were some kind of religious freak)? It can be as small as saying, “Hi,” to someone whom you don’t know or as big as stopping to stand up for someone who is being bullied even when you don’t know what will happen to you.
That’s when we can truly relate to the father who says, “I believe; help me in my unbelief.” We know what we believe, but we still have doubts. Then, we wonder why we don’t have enough faith.
Another Christian scripture explains this a little more. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” A friend of mine always paraphrased this as the very definition of faith: believe and trust. What we believe gives us assurance because we know they are true, but true conviction comes when we do something when we aren’t quite sure. When we doubt and still act on our beliefs.
Abram was told by God to leave his family and land in search of a bigger promise, and he did not get a GPS with a planned route. He simply took a step in a new direction, uncertain of what that meant. The prophets had to take bold steps of faith when God called to them, often in ways they could not fully understand.
What do your beliefs call you to do even when you doubt? Acts of mercy, kindness, justice? That is what “Faith in the 501” challenges us to do. We are called to live by faith in word and deed, especially when we aren’t quite sure of the consequence or what the outcome will be when we do the right thing when it’s not easy or popular.
Have some faith. Do the right thing.
Make a difference in someone’s life today.
Show faith in the 501.