In the south of France, as the sun gently rises to midday, many a boule playing man will cut short his game to indulge in the daily ritual of apéritif. A green glass bottle will appear pouring doses into glasses that are then filled with water according to the taste of each one. Everyone gets their daily dose of “pastis”.
Well, I’m sorry to tell you that pastis is not on the menu today. It has been replaced by an even more vital dose of “pistis”. Faith in Greek.
We live to get “pistis” ! (Be careful how you read that! It could mean the difference between getting drunk on wine or being filled with the Spirit!)
As there is only one God expressing himself in three persons, so there is only one faith expressing itself in three faces. Let’s take a look at these different expressions of faith.
- Confident Faith in the Father’s Provision – Faith for living and praying
This is an underlying trust that God will indeed provide and work things out for us. The verses in Matthew 6:25-34 seem to encapsulate this kind of faith – a faith which takes us beyond the worries and cares of this world and places us, as trusting children, into the loving arms of the Father.
“…your heavenly Father knows…” Matthew 6:32
A greater revelation of the “Spirit of sonship” who causes us to cry out “Abba” will indeed strengthen us in this confident faith. (Romans 8:15-17)
Another strengthener of this confidence is a deeper grasp of the Old Testament concept of “hesed” – loyalty, unfailing love. This “hesed” alliance that God made with Israel is fulfilled in the new covenant of Christ’s atoning death on the cross. “Hesed” is released upon us in grace. David’s psalms are full of “hesed”. Psalm 13 laments the difficulties of being forgotten, abandoned, sorrowful, worried and vanquished, and yet finishes with the wonderful proclamation,
“But I trust in your unfailing love;”
This perfectly captures the idea of confident faith in the midst of life’s storms. This is the confident, childlike faith which energises our prayer and gives us confidence to ask for our bread and fish.
“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11
- Theological Faith- Faith for sharing
As the Church is buffeted by all sorts of “new age” and post-modern teachings, it is important that we enter the debate with a strong theological faith. This is a growing faith in the fundamental facts of Christianity. The Apostles creed sums up this “theological faith.”
“I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended into hell. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.”
A strong theological faith is a fundamental part of our armoury in the spiritual warfare that rages around us. It is as much that belt of truth, as the shield we brandish and the sword we wield.
This faith gives power to our “kerygma” – our proclaiming and preaching of the gospel.
- The Gift of Faith- Faith for ministry and miracles
In the famous passage on spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12, Paul mentions the gift of “faith” in verse 9. “…to another faith by the same Spirit.” Like all faith, it is a gift from God, but it seems to be a particular ability to “hang on in there” in believing for the impossible. It is the kind of pioneer faith that sees churches planted amongst resistant people, buildings and projects developed, and miracles of healing and redemption manifested. It is the kind of faith, small as a mustard seed perhaps, that moves mountains.
“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, `Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. ” Mark 11:22-25
The opening phrase is in the genitive case in Greek and hints at the translation – “Have the faith of God.” Step into another dimension. The “unmovable” mountain of communism was thrown into the sea as Christians prayed and suffered over the years. Have “God’s faith” that other such seemingly unflinching strongholds such as Islam and Secularism, will also be thrown into the sea.
On a more personal level, have God’s faith in your own ability to overcome your own strongholds and mountains. Speak out the words of faith and live in the holiness and fullness of forgiveness.
One faith in three expressions
Well…you can go and get your “pastis” now!