There are many types of faith: Man’s faith in himself, Man’s faith in his fellowman, Man’s faith in God, and God’s faith in mankind. Faith in ones self is often difficult. We are easily consumed by self-doubt, fully recognizing our many mistakes and weaknesses. Likewise, it is a challenge to accept our fellowmen as worthy of our faith because we often tend to focus on their shortcomings, just like we do on our own.
One dimension of faith in God is the willingness to believe in a God who is bigger than what you have been taught. This involves allowing God to speak directly to our hearts instilling a faith in Him. In this process God’s communications are non-verbal. They are subtle. They are relentless. They are faith producing. In God we can recognize complete faithfulness, once we get past the erroneous concepts of God that are so prominently taught. The God of undying love has moved mountains to redeem mankind, and this type love cannot fail. It is something we can count on at all times and in all places. This faith cannot be based on our ability to get anything right, including religious doctrine and salvation requirements. Our faith can only be placed in God’s love and sufficiency to see us through regardless of our ineptitude. To the extent I have to know, do, respond, get it right, my faith is destroyed, because I can have no faith in my abilities. That has been proven over and over in the Bible and in human history.
The question of God’s faith in mankind at first glance seems almost ridiculous. Why or how could God have any faith in us? We are misbegotten sinners, prone to every mistake imaginable. The answer to this question lies at the most basic of issues. Why did God create man in the first place and what was his plan for mankind in the beginning. Many would have us believe that God’s plan was for mankind to be sinless and therefore live forever in the physical state in the Garden, communing with God as Adam and Eve first did. I think a more thoughtful look at the Bible will reveal that God fully understood that man would exercise his free will to make mistakes and that a divine process would be required to bring him to complete spiritual union with his Creator. Therefore God’s faith in man really amounts to his recognition that ultimately mankind would mature under God’s guidance to the point where a mature, face-to-face relationship could be established between God and all mankind. God’s faith in man is therefore tied to God’s ability to make it all work out despite man’s faults. Mankind was a work in progress from the beginning, and God knew the outcome. God knew that spiritual maturity would be reached one day but not without many twists and turns along the way. Spiritual development has never been a straight line progression because man’s free-will is involved. God did not create robots; he had no desire to have robots, or robots he would have made. God made creatures in his own image, capable of growing up to be united with God, to become a part of God, to be love like God.
God has been and still is in the nurturing business. It is impossible to nurture those in whom you have no faith. Nurturing is a slow, gradual, persuasive process. No one would engage in this type effort unless they were assured that success was possible and even probable. Many of our societal problems demonstrate this fact. We are not successful as a society, as a nation in nurturing transformation in the lives of many with destructive behaviors because we do not have faith in their basic nature, in their ability to transform, to become better citizens of this world. Our lack of faith in our fellowman leads to us to build ever larger prisons to house ever growing percentages of the population. It causes prison systems to be hell holes where recidivism is a foregone conclusion. It causes our new media to focus endlessly on the worst of all news. It breeds societal fear and anxiety which robs us of any feeling of peace and security, despite the heaping of law upon law, despite zero tolerance law enforcement, despite every law and order initiative ever imagined. If God was not different from us in his faith in mankind, then we would be doomed indeed. God has to be different from the above because only this different kind of God would be worth believing in. If God is to be no more than a man, only stronger and smarter, then he becomes a tyrant, a bully, and not worthy of our attention. Joyously, God is different, dramatically so. The Bible tells me so. My heart does too.