New Thought Editorials > Where Is Your Faith?

 

Summer 2008

Where Is Your Faith?

We tend to use the terms faith and belief interchangeably, but there is an important difference in them. According to the dictionary, "BELIEF may or may not imply certitude in the believer. . . . FAITH almost always implies certitude even where there is no evidence or proof." Long before Webster, the author of Hebrews wrote, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). And Jesus, in his post-resurrection appearance to Doubting Thomas, commented, "Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed" (John 20:29). Depth psychologist Carl Jung famously remarked, "I don’t believe; I know." These quotations all underscore the idea that rock-solid faith goes farther than simply believing something presented to us with reasonable evidence to back it up.

Jesus used the word translated belief more often than he used the word translated faith, although he used both quite frequently. He used the term faith in situations where absolute certitude had led to a healing, as in Matthew 9:22, "Thy faith hath made thee whole" (the woman healed of a bloody issue); and 29, "According to your faith be it unto you" (healing two blind men). He spoke of "little faith", meaning part-time faith that is only sometimes there, sparking on and off, like a defective electric wire. And in the vivid account of the storm at sea, when the frightened disciples awakened the sleeping Jesus to have him calm the waves, he reproached those professional fishermen with, "Where is your faith?" (Luke 8:25). They, like us, frequently put their faith in the wrong things: With no solid evidence or proof, they were sure that they were about to perish.

Belief is important because it can grow into faith. It is wonderful when unshakable faith springs up immediately, but it is far more common to have to nurture our little candle of hope until it bursts into flame as faith, or to collect more and more evidence to support our fledgling beliefs until they are ready to soar. Most of our New Thought practices are designed to help our beliefs solidify into unshakable faith. We use affirmations or visualizations to crowd out the fears, doubts, and worries that can so easily undermine our chosen beliefs. We take actions to prepare for the desired trip, promotion, house, or baby. We read stories of others who have succeeded in reaching their goals or triumphing over challenging circumstances. We turn our attention to what we believe about the love, power, and wisdom of God; and work to strengthen those beliefs. In short, we act as if we already had the faith we need in order to move mountains.

Jesus said, "If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall . . . say unto this mountain, be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done" (Matthew 24, 15-18). New Thought author Emmet Fox calls this "perhaps the most tremendous spiritual pronouncement ever made". Fox goes on to say:

It is a great mistake . . . to struggle to produce a lively faith within yourself. That can only end in failure. The thing to do is to act as though you had faith. What we voluntarily do will always be the expression of our true belief. Act out the part that you wish to demonstrate, and you will be expressing true faith.

We can all identify with the father of the sick son brought to Jesus, as described in Matthew 9. Jesus said to him, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." Tearfully, the father cried out, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." But the father had had enough faith to bring his son to Jesus, to take action as if he expected his desired outcome. This "faith as a grain of mustard" (Matthew 17:20) got the job done.

Where is our faith? In God, and in our power to co-create with God.