We love certainties and in such a time as the one we are living through certainties are hard to come by. If only I had a clear road map of what lies ahead in the next few weeks, months, maybe into next year. But no such luck. We are stuck looking into what is in fact always ahead of us – the unknown. Only now it is more obvious and more disturbing, unsettling.
This rattling of our certainties can be a challenge for certain perspectives on Christian religion. Religion, after all, lays out a moral\ethical\spiritual road map, rooted in the law, which is supposed to remove much of the uncertainty and ambiguity of living. So it comes as something of a shock when those supports show themselves unequal to the powers set against us. So it goes when religion is the go-to remedy as the fault lines of life shake, rattle and roll.
But faith is something else. Unlike religion, which abhors risk, uncertainty and loss, faith does not promise a journey marked with smooth roadways and clearly-marked directions, if only you pay attention and do the right thing. Certainties exist within the confines of the old creation and its law. Faith lives in the territory of freedom, where the one certainty we are given is the word of promise, which the gospel creates.
So for faith, this life is lived in the struggle between the old person in me who wants to cling to the dead certainties of the law, and the new person in Christ who lives in the free-range territory of faith.
I close with an illuminating quote from the late Danish theologian Leif Grane;
“Justification by faith does not make human efforts futile or unimportant, just as it would be a misunderstanding to think that a Christian point of view should involve us separating from people who want to do something in the world. On the contrary, justification by faith means the freedom to endure justification’s confusion with ethical idealism because one’s life does not depend on works, and because there are no Christian works…faith remains hidden to the human eye. The relationship between justification by faith and ethics does not imply a new ethic, but it makes us free to distinguish between good and evil and to act accordingly without any wish to obtain anything.”
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in
Christ Jesus our Lord.”