Thursday, May 9, 2019. Christian faith is about God, we all know that. But what is the role of God for us? What exactly does faith mean?
Some people think that faith is mainly a set of ethical rules. Others believe it has been invented to deal with the fear of people, the fear of death. And indeed, it talks about eternity and about life. Commandments are involved in faith - people are told which type of behaviour is good and which type is not good. But still behaviour is not the first layer of faith, not its core or center.
What is the role of Christ Jesus? And why did he have to die at the cross of Calvary?
What is the key point of faith, and why is it important? Let us look at a story from the gospel of Marc. Jesus talks about what faith is, and what it is not:
17 And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (from Marc 10)
The world is full of people who have good will. We see it everywhere. Humans have the ability to act in a moral way, and ethical rules are important part of social life. We cannot do without it and any society, where too many people do not stick to ethical behaviour, will destroy itself. But is that already faith? Is it a core part of faith? Our story tells us that it is not the core part. Yes, Jesus agrees with the ethical behaviour of the guy in this story. He even loves him, since he is putting a lot of effort into good behaviour. But it is not the main point!
So what IS the main point? Is it that we have to sell all we have, otherwise we cannot be saved? That is also not the most important point. It was just the most important point of this particular guy. To him, his possessions were his God. They stood in the center of his life. Yes, he was ethical. But he still violated the first commandment: do not have another God besides me! The most important part he missed, and he was lost …
Why is it so important to have God as our God? Why is ethical behaviour less central, even if it is still important. You can be very “good” in this ethical sense and still miss God completely!
So why? It is a matter of reality. God IS the center of creation. He was, before our time. He is beyond our time. He will be, after our time. Eternity is his being beyond time. If we miss him, we miss everything. We can live our life without him on this earth. We are given our years, how many that may ever be. But without him and his justice, we cannot enter his eternity. It is just impossible. In freedom we are asked to choose. (Roland Potthast) ... further texts