Faith in the life of a Christian isn’t just about whether we believe in Jesus’ existential reality. Belief in Jesus needs to undergird our faith experience, and yet, it should be characterized by so much more. Faith should mean that we trust Jesus to do the impossible concerning our souls and it should also include our trust in His ability to change oppressive systems, practices, and dare I say, individuals who relentlessly malign the poor and the weak.
Faith is looking that which oppresses dead in the face and saying, “No,” no matter the risk. It is the boldness to look an evil king in the face, as did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and refuse loyalty, even in the face of death. It is the fortitude to resist and call attention to the empire’s desire to annihilate one’s people as did Esther. It is the willingness to raise holy hell until every despotic force ceases its evil ways.
Faith then is just as much as it is about belief in the one who put on human flesh to save the world as it is about how we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to do the same. The ability to act courageously and full of integrity in a system bent on punitive responses to heartfelt, intentional praxis that liberates is what trust in the divine means.
I must admit that I am not there just yet. Everyday my belief in Jesus gives me an opportunity to act courageously; some days I respond in faith and am able to challenge systems of power and oppression and other days, I fail. I fail not because I do not want to be courageous, but because the fear of punishment paralyzes me to my core. Sure, I fear the loss of opportunities and financial security when I resist – no one wants to lose their house or livelihood for doing the right thing!. And of course, I fear the loss of personal safety. And still, at the deepest level, I agonize over the thought of losing relationships for standing out and prophetically resisting evil instead of settling for complacency.
I want to do better. I want to trust and have faith in Jesus in such a way that I can move and speak in spite of fear. I desire a faith experience that can move mountains and uproot kingdoms – and to be clear, not by mine own power but by the Spirit of the living God.
How do I get there? Practice and working out my salvation day by day. Faith is not built overnight but over time with much deliberation and intentionality. It’s not about believing more but acting out of what I profess I believe in more.
I doubt I will ever move past the fear. But I know I can develop the strength to move in spite of it so that I can better resist structural oppression and lift up a vision of the fulfillment of the kingdom of God.