Wandering the savage garden…

Confession: Faith, Truth, Action

Faith. Truth. Action.

Emunah. Emet. Mitzvot, or Tseduka.

Here’s a truth, uttered in faith: I struggle with all of these. My faith wavers, I act selfishly and have coveted the truth for myself, and I have more faith in action than I should.

I don’t really know how to handle this, either. Romans 3:28 says that we are justified by faith (although Josh McDowell dislikes that phrase, because it sounds like faith in anything is what saves, but I’m using it as Paul does, so it’s faith in Christ, thank you very much) but I don’t think I act like that’s the truth, even though I think it is.

I’m not helped by James 2:14, which says that faith without works is dead.

It’s meant to be balanced, I think. Works without faith are worthless, sacrifices made out of rote obedience at best. Faith with no action is a faith that changes nothing in the world around it, for good or for ill.

But where’s the balance?

I don’t know.

With respect to God, I do my best, knowing that my offering is not likely to be met with an immediate visceral response: I don’t do what I do for God, expecting a sort of cosmic “ka-ching!” I want to have a long-range vision of what it means to do something in faith for Him. I do it for His glory, not mine, and not in the hopes of a reward; that’s something I try to do in love for Him.

With respect to people? It’s a little harder, honestly. I act toward the people around me like action is what matters, because I don’t have the faith in them that I have in God. I don’t expect immediate reward, and honestly, I’m okay with no reward for most situations, but the truth is that after a while I get tired. I think to myself that I have done my part, I have fed the hungry, I have clothed the unclothed… when do my needs get met?

I don’t expect God to act in such a way that justifies my faith in Him, you see. His default position for me is totally justified (as if I have a right to demand justification of Him!)

But people… people I expect to justify themselves in relation to me. It’s not that I expect a personal reward, so much as I think I expect people to try to show me, somehow, that things are better than they were.

If I help someone, or if I do what they say they wanted me to do, then I find myself expecting them to pay it somewhere – if not paying me back, I expect them to pay it forward. If nothing changes, then I feel like I’ve been cheated, and that’s where my faith in action lies – meaning that it’s where my faith is, as well as where that faith is dishonest.

I find myself thinking of the Trinity. It, too, is like the three legs on a tripod; maybe God is represented by truth, Jesus is represented by action, and the Holy Spirit is represented by faith. Or maybe God is represented by action, and the Holy Spirit is represented by truth, and… you get the idea. I don’t think the symbols are more than symbols – attaching too great a value demeans what the symbols are supposed to represent.

But it’s a useful thought, nonetheless – maybe I need to focus more on the interrelation between faith, truth, and action, such that I can find a greater balance inside.

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