Why do you have faith? There are a number of reasons to have faith, some of which can be a bit superficial. I think it’s worth exploring some of these reasons, which may not initially seem superficial at all.
First, there are those who have what I call “cause and effect” faith. They hold to beliefs because they want a fuller life, would like to remain in good favor with the Creator God and feel that a life filled with faith will result ultimately in their reaching an eternal home in heaven. On the surface, there is nothing wrong with this type of faith. But if the cause and effect linkage becomes broken, a person may be left disappointed or worse. This can happen when tragedy strikes and someone feels let down, as though his or her faith was not rewarded through the avoidance of that tragedy.
Another reason is because faith can be like a “balm”. Life can be difficult enough, uncertain, unpredictable and painful. Faith helps to ease the burden. However, faith does pose challenge and hardship. When questioned, Jesus stated that the true path to eternity involves selling off your possessions, washing the feet of others, and picking up a cross to follow him forward. When faith feels less like a balm than hoped for, it weakens.
Some have faith because it serves to establish “purpose and meaning” in life. Unfortunately, if this becomes the only basis for faith, and there is nothing beyond that, then a person may become a “meaning shopper”. Today it’s Catholicism, tomorrow environmentalism, the day after social justice, and so on.
And finally, some have faith because it was “handed down” to them or provided by someone in their life they respected and trusted. If that person eventually disappoints or makes a significant mistake, however, the holder of the given faith may feel betrayed, and then faith could falter.
In and of themselves, none of these reasons are bad. But they are incomplete; there needs to be more to it. There needs to be relationship, a personal connection, something deeper. When faith is challenged, which it will be, we all need to be able to rely upon a Creator God with whom we are acquainted, and who we know personally through prayer. It is no different than any other relationship for in times of challenge, we can rely upon our friends more so than strangers.
As it is the beginning of the new year, now is a good time to evaluate the nature of your relationship with God and to set out to improve it. To make it more real, personal and to take it to a deeper level.