Richard reminds us that believing “in” Jesus really means participating in the faith of Jesus:
Many scholars over the years have pointed out that what is usually translated in Paul’s letters as “faith in Christ” would be more accurately translated as “the faith of Christ.” It’s more than a change of prepositions. It means we are all participating in the faith journey that Jesus has already walked. We are forever carried inside of the “Corporate Personality” that Christ always is for Paul (check out 1 Corinthians 12:12–31 for starters). That’s a very different understanding of faith than most Christians consider.
Most Christians think having faith means “to believe in Jesus.” But “to share in the faith of Jesus” is a much richer concept. It is not so much an invitation as it is a cosmic declaration about the very shape of reality. By myself, I don’t know how to have faith in God, but once we know that Jesus is the corporate stand-in for everybody, we know we have already been taken on the ride through death and back to life. All we can do now is make what is objectively true fully conscious in ourselves. We are all participating in Jesus’ faith walk with varying degrees of resistance and consent.
Father Richard reminds us that having faith is not something that we have to do on our own:
Remember, it’s God in us that loves God. We on our own don’t really know how to love God. It’s Christ in us that recognizes Christ. It’s the Holy Spirit, whose temple we are (see 1 Corinthians 3:16), that responds to the Holy Spirit. Like recognizes like. That’s why all true cognition is really recognition (“re-cognition” or knowing something again). Only insofar as we have surrendered to Christ and allowed the Christ in us to come to fullness can we love Christ.
“Faith” is not an affirmation of a creed, an intellectual acceptance of God, or believing certain doctrines to be true or orthodox (although those things might well be good). Yet many Christians have whittled faith down to that. Such faith does not usually change our heart or our lifestyle. I’m convinced that much modern atheism is a result of such a heady and ineffective definition of faith. We defined faith intellectually, so people came up with intellectual arguments against it and then said, “I don’t believe in God.”
Both Jesus’ and Paul’s notion of faith is much better translated as foundational confidence or trust that God cares about what is happening right now. This is clearly the quality that Jesus fully represents and then praises in other people.
God refuses to be known intellectually. God can only be loved and known in the act of love; God can only be experienced in communion. This is why Jesus “commands” us to move toward love and fully abide there. Love is like a living organism, an active force-field upon which we can rely, from which we can draw, and we can allow to pass through us.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Great Themes of Paul: Life as Participation (Cincinnati, OH: St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2002), Audible audio ed.
Explore Further. . .
- Read Richard on faith as connection to the Divine Source.
- Learn more about this year’s theme Nothing Stands Alone.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image credit: Benjamin Yazza, Untitled 09 (detail), United States, photograph, used with permission. Tory Hallenburg, Walking on Water (detail), 2018, United States, photograph, Unsplash. Carrie Grace Littauer, Untitled 10 (detail), 2022, United States, photograph, used with permission. Jenna Keiper & Leslye Colvin, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge image.
Image inspiration: Venturing beyond the monochrome of certainty, we walk into water and on ground we cannot always see. Our ripples spread beyond ourselves into this movement of faith.
Story from Our Community:
I feel my world expanding every morning as I read the Daily Meditations. While I have always felt I had a spiritual interior relationship, I did not realize how narrow my experience and access to God really were. At 55, I find myself at peace and filled with joy at knowing how little I know and need to know. I am less aware of the boundaries that my early faith established and more aware of the interconnectedness of all humanity. —Coleen M.
Prayer for our community:
God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough, because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.