Not a fragile faith

June 15, 2016 | Viewpoints | Volume 20 Issue 13
Willard Metzger,

In a recent Bible study, we were looking at John 20 where Jesus appeared to the disciples. Gathered behind locked doors, Jesus appeared in the midst of them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he did an amazing thing. He breathed on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

This is a significant development. It was a graduation. They would now carry on the faith—not by receiving more teaching by Jesus, but by listening to the Holy Spirit. It was an empowering. It was an unleashing of the law written in their hearts.

It would be easier if Jesus had stayed around. But now, in the safety of community, followers of Jesus listen for the Holy Spirit to draw out the law written on their hearts. Faith was not left fragile. Rather, it was entrusted to the power of the Holy Spirit.

This biblical account has made me wonder about the character of our faith.

A fragile faith must be defended. It must be protected. But a confident faith is free to face uncertainty. It is able to navigate through complexity.

A vulnerable faith must be propped up by constructs that refute uncertainty. But then it is a faith imprisoned by unquestioning conviction.

But unquestioned faith is a flimsy faith. It is a faith ready to be shaken by the first real disappointment of life. It is a faith that avoids death, rather than a faith that embraces the promise of resurrection.

A faith fearful of death remains locked in a present that was constructed by the past. An uncertain faith produces confidence by entrenching itself in what is known or in what is thought to be known.

Our faith is not a fragile faith. Born in persecution, it rooted itself in the confidence of resurrection. It was a faith that in death sang harmonies with the unseen future.

Our faith is not bound by past constructs. While aligned to the timeless truths revealed by Jesus, it is freed by the Holy Spirit to emerge in new and constant relevancy.

A robust faith does not need to know the future, only that the God we worship holds the future. An unshakable faith is reconciled to uncertainty, knowing that the only definite is the grace of God’s transforming and redeeming power.

This is the faith we hold. This is the faith we profess: An assurance in the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide us in faithfulness and confidence. Now is the time to let our faith shine.

Willard Metzger is Mennonite Church Canada’s executive director.

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