The Definition of Faith

Reflection on Matthew 14:22-33

 Review the scene – stormy seas, pelting rain, Jesus appears, reassures, asks Peter to step out in faith, Peter falters, Jesus asks Peter: Why did you falter? They acknowledge him as Son of God

Isn’t that parable also a blueprint of our own faith Journey?

Through our parents, through our individual faith journey, we were given the gift of faith

And while faith is not a tangible object per se, faith can be like a warm flannel shirt. It is soothing, comforting, always available to wear when we want it, and warming

But there are times that faith can be like a hair shirt – it can make us uncomfortable. As long as we wear it, it constantly irritates us and reminds us that there is something – outside of our body – that sort of prickles at our body.

So there are times in our life when we like the warmth and comfort of our faith and there are times in our life when we like to forget that the hair shirt is on.

But a shirt can be discarded. You switch shirts when it pleases you. But not when it comes to faith.

Faith burrows into your soul. And part of our mission, as Christians, is to not just have faith but discover what our faith is and means to us.

I believe that to know faith – not to have faith – is to dig deep down inside us and find out what faith means.

What does faith mean to you? For me, faith is part of my daily psyche. It is part of who I am. In fact, faith defines me. If I did not have faith, I would feel defenseless and alone. It is my overwhelming belief that Christ is there for me as my companion and my source of strength.

You see, faith is something that you not only hold onto but you let define you.

How does one let faith define him or her? First, by understanding that, no matter or great or small, God has come to us and given us the gift of faith. It’s ours to claim or reject.

But once we accept this gift, then we need to live it. We need to develop a life where faith dominates our thoughts and our actions. It’s OK if we slip, it’s OK if we falter – like Peter—but the key is to own your faith, to hold your faith and to let faith surround you.

What happens when we allow faith to define us? We recognize that we are not alone. We recognize that there is something – someone – outside of us – that cares for us. We recognize that faith has given us a code of life AND a way of life.

Think back on your own life. Haven’t there been times when it was your faith that got you through a difficult time? You might not have recognized it like someone walking in the room but it was there and you pulled through. Haven’t there been times in your life when it was your faith that brought you to take a different stand – or a different perspective. Times when you knew something was wrong for you and you drew a line. That was your faith.

Aren’t there times in your life that you looked out at a beautiful blue sky, or a churning ocean, or an exquisite flower and recognized that there was a higher purpose in this world? Those are all times when faith was there as a reminder of God’s love.

But faith has to be worked at. It doesn’t come easy. Sometimes it gets in our way. Sometimes it seems to elude us. Sometimes it brings us great comfort and sometimes it sets s apart and makes us different.

But it is your faith in Jesus Christ that carried you to Church in your lives – it is your faith that brought you to know the Bible. It is your faith that brings you here each week. And, as we grow older, it is our faith that comforts us. As long as we believe, faith will be our constant companion. Faith reminds us that even if the thoughts of mortality linger over us, that there is an even brighter day and place ahead.

Faith requires us to look at each day that we have and to say: Christ gave me this day. Now what am I going to do with it? Am I going to use the day and make it worthwhile? Or am I going to forget that Christ told us to walk out in faith and see how each of us can walk on the seas of uncertainty.

 Believe and you can be comforted. Believe and you can ride out an adversity. Believe and you will be filled with an inner reserve and a gentle peace. Those are the gifts of faith.

Comfort. Peace. Inner calm. Gentle serenity and an inner reserve. Take them. They are yours.

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