Who are the faithful?March 22, 2014
Here at Multivocality, I am interested in exploring different voices, not all of them necessarily my own. It stretches me, in terms of intellect, compassion, imagination and vision as I seek the kingdom of God, to try and explore things from perspectives that are not the ‘party line’. In short, I’d rather write some things that might be arguable ‘wrong’ but thereby grow in understanding of ways to express truth.
I have been thinking recently about how people who think of themselves as the faithful might actually seem like they lack faith to those who are typically identified as ‘unbelievers’, because of the christian culture reflex of trying to assert a positivist position of certitude. This little piece is an adventure in looking through a different lens, of ‘faith-flipping’ and asking ‘what would actual “Faith” look like?’
There they go – the every-day desperate ones.
Desperate to win, desperate to assert. Clamouring for a voice, Struggling against the sense that they are going under, and flailing about in an effort to keep head above the water. To keep a profile, and to keep safe borders. All that’s been built, all that has been worked for is under threat and and must be protected, maintained, buttressed with greater force. More space, more territory, more attention, more of the market share must be acquired. Launching new initiatives with the right hand and anchoring their right to success and entitlement to win in traditions of a privileged history.
There they go. Everyday, the faithless existence of desperation. They preach, they blog, they publish, they petition, they promote. They talk much of God, they are scandalised at efforts to righteousness, yet hammer hard the need to earn faith, have faith, invest in the kingdom, sounding like desperate economists of industry. They have nailed the market, and they have just about crucified teh gospel.
But look there.
There they go, in the midst, the everyday faithful.
Those who throw themselves defenceless upon life as it is, without a claim of authority or certainty. They say ‘I don’t know..’ and wonder a little. They say ‘Could it be…perhaps’ and keep listening. Or they switch off the distant argument and choose instead to love what is before them. They have no system, not mechanism, no proof, beyond the breath they have drawn in and expelled with a sigh for grief of a lived one gone, or a huff of exertion to the task, or a kiss of blessing over the forehead of their child, or a exhalation centring the body in the deep peace of sustained breathing, or a fittingly silent prayer of solidarity for the voiceless.
They may barely know. They may barely know anything. They may barely know the name of God, and yet live entirely dependent upon faith that the world will keep turning, that each new sunrise will come without their effort, and face it in humble gratitude. They may barely know of the unseen kingdom and yet yearn for its justice and peace.
They do not know, but they question. They do not know, but they live what they can on the terms of faith, in hope, on a line cast into the depths beyond sight, with patience and time yet to speak its vindication.
They have no doctrine of inerrancy, infallibility; they know too well that such a reef, though pure it may be in itself, once looked upon by human eyes is subject to all manner of clouded cataract, unnerved glaucoma, misshapen astigmatism. All they hold to is held without ambit claim or assertive normativity. Just by faith.
Who are the faith-full? Who, really, walks by faith?
How might I walk in faith in the things that I faith are good and beautiful and true?
I have thrown all my wagers upon the God of Jesus.
How will living be a faith in God?
Are not the faithful those who have given up the no risk, nailed down, watertight, contracts of safety and certainty?
Are not the faithful those who have built arks and escaped to wander in deserts, hungry and thirsty like Noah and Moses? Are not the faithful those who fall pregnant in old age or in virginal youth and live as if such a thing is of the living God – a blessing, not a curse, like Sarah and Mary?
Are not the faithful those who, secure in the traditions of their ancestors, accept blindness and disorientation on the roadside and recover to sleep with the enemy, like Paul?
This is not to eschew intellect – but to stir a faith-ing intellect that searches beyond the too-easy logic.
And not to eschew commitment – but to embrace a faith-ing commitment that signs up to love, not just to like-mindedness.
Who, then are the faithful?
“When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”