Everyone has a personal faith. Some people place their faith in traditional religions while others collect ideas from various sources and create a unique, personal faith. Sometimes people put their faith in social or political movements. Still others place their faith in progress or technology, that is the future. Not everyone has a well thought out faith, not everyone recognizes what their faith is, but everyone lives by some sort of faith.
So what is faith? It is trusting in something you can’t prove. That’s not to say that faith is irrational, or that there isn’t evidence backing our conclusion, just that we have to go beyond what we can see. Even the pure “rationalist” has to has to make a “leap of faith” to trust their thinking as discussed by Timothy Keller in his Authors@Google talk. A great illustration of this comes from the book Flatland. Just as the two dimensional residents of Flatland struggled to imagine the greater reality of three dimensional space, so we struggle to see the full reality that goes beyond what we can see with our eyes. C.S. Lewis’ discussed this struggle in his wonderful sermon The Weight of Glory. There is a spiritual dimension that anyone can discover, but no one sees naturally.
He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your Lord.Micah 6:8
I grew up in a reform Jewish home, but became a follower of Jesus in my college years. I say a follower of Jesus rather than Christian because in the mind of many people, the term Christian is link to very un-Christian images. Saying follower of Jesus brings front stage that the Christian faith is centered on a personal relationship, not a system of beliefs, nor is it an alignment with the political left or right. There is a nice YouTube video What’s a Christian? An attempt to recapture the word Christian was the poem by Carol Wimmer entitled When I Say “I am a Christian”.
The life of a follower of Jesus is spent learning about who Jesus is, understanding His love, and letting His love set them free to live a meaningful and loving life. As you grow to know a friend, and to appreciate them, your life changes a bit and you take on some of their characteristics. A follower of Jesus will slowly have their life changed so that it looks more like the life of love that Jesus lived. Not because they are now following an external set of rules like the Ten Commandments, but because they have love in their heart. Book of Galatians which can be found in the Bible’s New Testament says that the fruit of the Spirit, that is the result of God working in a Christian’s life, should be love. Then this book goes on to enumerate what this love looks like: joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Jesus himself said that people will know we are His followers the love which is manifest in their community.
Authors that have most influenced my faith include C.S. Lewis, Watchman Nee, Ralph Winter, Kenneth Bailey, Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, Larry Crabb, J. Oswald Sanders, Dennis McCallum, John White, Henri Nouwen, and Timothy Keller. If I ever wrote a personal statement of faith I don’t think I could do a better job that the Missional Manifesto.
I became a Christian in college when I found the Bible has insights I didn’t expect and saw how following Jesus changed the lives of people I knew for the better. I attended Xenos Christian Fellowship for twelve years. During my time at Xenos I lead small groups, co-lead a house church, and with others started a ministry to international students, establish a missions program, and sent a team to Southeast Asia. Xenos provided a great foundation of both practical and systematic theology, advanced hermeneutics and provided an effective framework for service. I then moved to the SF Bay Area and attended Penisula Bible Church which helped me trust God more deeply in day to day life and to find common ground with people who embraced different traditions and beliefs. At PBC I co-lead small groups, served and provided mentorship to college students, young adults, and young married couples. I coordinated the Perspectives class several times. For the last few years I have been attending Menlo Church, Cafe Campus. I am involved with a couple of small groups and am part of the Stephen Ministry.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.Hebrews 11:1-3 ESV