Faith . . . in Jesus

In today’s cultural context it is important for God’s people to make clear the source of our faith—the God in whom we put our trust.

In our culture it is quite fashionable to acknowledge a person’s faith. We’re likely to praise the strong faith that enables people to courageously cope with major challenges. This is true even in primarily secular settings.

Take an advice column like the “Dear Abby” column your parents or grandparents may have grown up on. Letters pour out all kinds of human woe and tribulation from those seeking wisdom. While dispensing the usual common-sense counsel, the columnist may affirm the faith that gives a person hope and courage and strength.

But faith in what or whom? That’s quite another matter. Our culture shies away from any ultimate claims about a divine being. Many people share the belief that all religions lead to God. So it is acceptable for politicians and citizens to say, “God bless America.” But it is not politically correct to say anything in particular about the God who is mentioned.

Why would an advice columnist make a point of affirming someone’s faith? Because she or he isn’t thinking of faith in the God of the Bible. Rather she recognizes that faith produces psychological benefits such as hope, courage, and fortitude. That’s perceptive. These qualities do help a person cope with what Hamlet called the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” But such faith isn’t centered on God; it’s centered on the person. It’s a humanistic faith.

For that reason, in today’s cultural context it is important for God’s people to make clear the source of our faith—the God in whom we put our trust. Our faith is not in ourselves, in that we carry a spark of the divine or that we have the capabilities to handle any challenge. Our faith is not in our nation, in the notion that it is specially chosen or exceptional. Our faith is not in just any version of a deity. No, our faith rests on Jesus Christ, the Savior and Lord of the world.

Recently I’ve noticed that even Christian writing sometimes refers to a person’s faith without any reference to Jesus. I’ve noticed obituaries about faithful Christians that read along these lines: “She valued her faith and family first.” But there’s no mention of Jesus, the one on whom her faith rests. I’ve even noticed this in Banner articles.

Perhaps in Christian circles it is simply assumed that our faith rests in Jesus. But does it need to be said anyway? Yes! In a culture that often reduces faith to psychological strength, it is important to witness to the one in whom we trust. In Christian circles let’s be clear and complete. Let’s say more than “through these experiences his faith grew.” Instead let’s say that “his faith in Jesus Christ grew.” Together let’s lift up the name of Jesus.

About the Author

Neil Jasperse is a specialized transitional minister currently serving Faith Church in Nashville, Tenn.

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Comments

Yes!  Thank you for this, Neil.  This is a worthwhile and edifying challenge. 

Similar things could be said about prayer, especially since we live in flippant "thoughts and prayers" culture.  Prayer as psychological phenomenon?  Prayer to whom?  Wherein lies the power of prayer?  To that extent, it is also good for us to speak clearly about whom we pray to and why we practice and believe in prayer - because the power of prayer lies in the being to whom we pray, not in the phsychological benefits we may experience.  We really do have a hotline to the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. 

      Hey Neil, I can appreciate your concern, but I think you may be making a mountain out of mole hill.  I think you may be overreacting.  I get what you want to say.  You want Christ to be recognized in, especially, our public discourse.  People who suggest that their faith got them through a difficult situation are too vague for you, even though it is faith in a creator God who sustains the universe.  You suggest that you have noticed this fault even with Christian writers who might refer to a person’s faith without any reference to Jesus.  You have even noticed this in Christian obituaries or in Banner articles.  Well, if they are Christian obituaries or Banner articles, who other than the Christian God would they be referring to as the object of their faith?
      It seems as though you want the name of Jesus to always be mentioned in connection with faith.  Hence the title of your article, Faith...in Jesus.  But Christians believe in a Triune God, a faith in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Why would you mention Jesus without mentioning the Father (the creator and sustain of creation, as well as our lives), or the Holy Spirit (who moves and molds us from within)?  Shouldn’t your concern be that the mention of faith should identify the Christian God as the Triune God -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and not just Jesus?
      I appreciate your concern, Neil.  But there is more to the Christian faith than just Jesus.  Let’s keep perspective.
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