Every one of us has a world view which includes ideas about what faith we have and what we trust or believe in. It forms a small part of our overall 'world view', and we can think about it in different ways; we have 'faith' in many aspects of our everyday lives.
In order to keep living ordinary lives, people must have faith in objects, people, position and structure, in facts, in processes, and ultimately in God and of course in some spiritual and moral framework. In this article, I will explore aspects of some of these different meanings of 'faith'.
One meaning of 'faith' is 'trust that objects will behave the way we expect them to'. Whether we are exploring new scientific principles, or deciding on whether to take the umbrella to work today, at some point, our decision requires that we trust the information that we receive from other people, and apply it to our everyday activities.
In the case of the umbrella, on the evening news, we may first hear the weather report telling us to expect rain. Relating this report to our wider world view, we decide how trustworthy that information actually is, remembering perhaps our previous personal experience of the reliability of weather forecasts. Finally, we make our decision.
To make even the simplest of decisions like these, we have to at some point trust the information we are receiving based on our core, fundamental beliefs as well as past, subjective experiences. At some level, we choose to put our faith into facts, interpretations, or opinions of others, so that we can make a decision now.
The alternative to making faith-based decisions such as this, is to investigate all the facts oneself. So instead of trusting the weather report, we buy all the tools necessary to conduct our own meteorological assessment, set up our own lab and undertake the tests. However, we are still placing our faith in the instruments being used; that they measure what they are supposed to measure, and that in fact, these measurements are what are needed to assess weather patterns in the first place.
At some point, we have to base our decision making on something, or someone we believe to be true, as it is completely impractical to retest previous research on fundamental assumptions every time a new decision is required.
As this decision process largely happens unconsciously, sometimes its a good idea to spend a bit of time reflecting on a few of the faith based decisions we have made. This is especially useful when we find that our faith in one area contrasts, or even contradicts with faith in another.
By placing too much faith in other people and human understanding, we can very easily let un-Biblical, worldly faith-based statements that 'have the appearance of wisdom' influence our understanding of moral values and ideas about who God is, and what He desires and respects.
Ephesians 6:12 tells us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and evil in the heavenly realms. Personally, I am increasingly finding that this struggle almost always starts within me. Hebrews 10:14 states:
'For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.'
For me, a large part of that being made holy, is challenging how I think, and where I put my faith, as Christ continually encourages me to place more and more faith in Him and the promises He has given me.
Romans 8:5 tells us that living by faith is setting your MIND on what the Spirit desires. Where we set our minds defines how we are living with Christ. Surely this is one of the biggest battle lines drawn for us in our walk with Christ.
One of the greatest weapons given us, is that we as Christians have been given the ability to take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ through the Word of God, in both the person of Jesus and written Scripture (2 Corinthians 10:5). We literally have the ability to capture each thought we have and submit it to the authority of God's Word, to determine whether we are putting faith in this world, or faith in Christ.
'...faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ' (Romans 10:17).
When I read the Bible, I find a God whose values sharply contrast with the values and beliefs of this world. Where society fosters self reliance, strength and self belief, I find a God who fosters innocence, innocence, complete dependence, humility and contrition. In fact, it is through these Godly qualities, that the Lord shows his perfect power (2 Corinthians 12:9: ...for my power is made perfect in weakness.).
If the ability to take captive every thought to make it obedient is a weapon, then scripture is the ammunition for that weapon, however to aim this weapon requires complete dependence on Christ.
God works within us, giving us the will and the ability to act according to His good purpose, as written in Philippians 2:13. Even for the will to assess my thinking; to decide where to put my trust and my 'faith' in my everyday living, I need the Lord's intervention.
All I need do is ask – and ask earnestly.