A group of us have been studying the Birth Narrative/Story of Jesus through Advent and into Epiphany (January 6th). Placing His birth in its historical and literary context, deepened our understanding of the situation surround Jesus’ birth and offered reasons for connecting Jesus to the Jewish prophecies. A familiar question frequently arises, “What’s all this information got to do with my faith?”
Faith, defined by Merriam-Webster, “is firm belief in something for which there is no proof.”
The Bible contains a clear definition of faith Hebrews 11:1,
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
Simply put, the biblical definition of faith is “trusting in something you cannot explicitly prove.”
There are two aspects to this definition of faith: Intellectual Agreement and Trust.
- Intellectual Agreement is believing “something” to be true.
- Trust is actually relying on the fact that “the something” is true.
For example: Intellectually we can recognize a chair is a chair, and we can agree that it is designed to support a person who sits on it. Trust is actually sitting in the chair and believing it will hold us up off the floor.
Understanding these two aspects of faith is crucial. Many people believe certain facts about Jesus Christ. Many people will also intellectually agree with facts the Bible declares about Jesus. But knowing those facts to be true is not what the Bible means by “faith.” The biblical definition of faith requires both Intellectual Agreement to the facts AND Trust in the facts.
God gifted humans with the ability to think and reason – a Gift to be used in all aspects of our lives, including our faith. Enlightenment/Wisdom: is Intellectual Study complemented by Deep Thinking, or visa versa.
Enlightenment inspired prophets to proclaim what God was about to do
Enlightenment inspired the shepherds to seek this new thing God was doing
Enlightenment inspired the Magi to follow what they knew and what they believed to find this “new thing” being birthed into the universe.
Enlightenment brought forth the expansive wisdom of the Christian Faith Tradition in all its expressions, from one Roman Christian church through the Protestant Reformation to all expressions of Christianity Progressive-Orthodox-Conservative
Enlightenment moved the Scriptures from the “Priesthood” only into the hands of all persons
Having “faith like a child” doesn’t mean having an unquestioning faith. I don’t know of any young child who doesn’t ask, “Why?” constantly or doesn’t push against boundaries to see how strongly those boundaries will be enforced. Having faith like a child IS asking questions. It means being curious enough to find out more, not to confirm or disprove, but to Enlighten and Deepen our faith. This includes being open to Wonder and Awe and Mystery.
The Feast Day of Epiphany celebrates the coming of Wisdom and Enlightenment through the birth of Jesus. Jesus, a human child, who shined light on long-held Jewish thought and teachings. Jesus, a child, who questioned and wondered about God’s action with the Jews and all people and creation. Jesus, the Christ, who shines light on our own long-held beliefs and stereotypes and calls us to return to God and live God’s Love into the world.
Paul closes 1 Corinthians 13:11-13 with,
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”
And the greatest of these is Love.
Grace & Peace,