If faith were a cookie, one might say that the combination of grace, trust, and hope are its core ingredients, like flour, sugar and some type of oil/butter are the basic ingredients are found in every aspect of faith. Furthermore, in a way, without grace, trust and hope, we become stuck in a faith that is ultimately empty, and a prison of individual survival.
Without grace, we can never move on. While there are many lessons and practices that come with grace, one example is what we learn from grace that allows us to forgive. When we forgive, we are enabled to let go of the things that we cannot control; we are also able to extend to others that have done us wrong a fresh start and the opportunity for a renewed relationship.
Without trust, we have no present to live in fully. Think of it this way, if we cannot learn to trust God or each other and the only one we can trust is ourselves, then we are never able to learn or grow. Moreover, without trust, we live in the false reality that we can rely exclusively on our own whims and desires. This often takes us down the dangerous path of Nihilism, an extreme negativity of the world, or Narcissism, the self-love devoid of community. This selfish approach to life gives us merely a moment-by-moment existence.
Without hope, our future is limited in the same way that a lack of grace and trust limits us. If there is nothing to hope for, what does that say to the whole life that God wants for us? Philosophers have struggled with this question for centuries. However, as Christians, we recognize that our hope in God transcends all things and at its root is a realization that hope allows us a freedom to live and recognition that there is something more to come.
This week these coalesce into the topic of Faith, which will lead us next week to Love. Nevertheless, this week we are exploring the story that is found in all three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) of Jesus Curing the Boy with a Demon. Here we see in great detail a topic that was raised toward the end of our discussion this past Sunday, and that is how the disciples who know, saw, and worked with Christ could still not believe.
In fact, in this passage, we see an obviously annoyed Christ coming to the aid of this boy because his disciples did not have a strong enough faith. Here the miracle really takes the back seat to the annoyance Christ has felt towards our society, which seems to be in a constant loop of faithlessness, or the bargaining mode of believing and following to the point of comfort and not beyond.
For modern Christians, it is hard for us to understand how the disciples could not have the faith in God in Christ since they knew him, could touch and walk with him. It is hard to imagine that their faith was as tentative as ours is at times. Think about it though: while they were in ministry with Christ, they began learning from a man who they saw as a teacher. As that relationship grew, so did their understanding of Christ, and really it was not until Christ’s own final ascension that all the disciples really came to fully understand what they were part of, so the faith they showed was very much tied to the moment and their reality.
As we think for this Sunday, ask yourself, how do I use Grace, Trust, and Hope as tools for my faith, and how can that bring me to a new and freer life in Christ through faith?
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen