At church, our current series is about discussing how faith grows.
In the process of Sunday sermons and weekly Small Groups, a handful of observations are rising to the surface.
Here is one of them.
FAITH AND FAITHFULNESS
A question in our last Small Group asked us who we considered a great example of faith. Who exhibited an unusual level of confidence and trust in God? I confessed that I found that hard to answer. If it was looking for FAITHFULNESS, I had an easy list of names. Somehow FAITH changed the discussion for me. It seems riskier and more adventurous than the plodding and dutiful flavour of faithfulness.
Of course, the two concepts are linked (linguistically at the least), but I confess to experiencing more disconnect than I likely should. As said, faith appears more outrageous — it’s the believing of things unseen, the aggressively confident holding to God’s outlandish promises. Certainly, faithfulness (in its full sense) is the act of exercising faith. However, it rolls off my tongue far more frequently as a term of steady responsibility, the long-term execution of what you know you should do.
A couple thoughts sum this up:
1) Faithfulness is likely under-valued. This “long obedience in the same direction” (Peterson’s priceless phrase) is not for the faint of heart. Fleeting affections and flighty commitments will never sustain the steadiness demanded to live by faith.
2) That said, any form of faithfulness truly worth something must be rooted in a deeply trust-filled relationship with God. Responsible task-ticking was the way of the older brother (Luke 15), yet he was revealed to be disturbingly distanced from the Father he “faithfully” stood beside. Trust is linked to intimacy, and because of that fact: Anything less than faith-filled faithfulness comes off as mere duty, akin to a marriage that “celebrates” landmark anniversaries while being undesirably dead.
YOUR TURN: What about you? How do you observe the link between FAITH and FAITHFULNESS? Who has inspired you toward greater faith?