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Thu November 6, 2003
Faith - Another Approach
Hope springs eternal, and charity begins at home. But the third spiritual principle can be a bit more elusive.
By Paul Wilkes
Wilmington NC – [Click the LISTEN button to hear Paul's commentary.]
Faith. So many people say faith eludes them. In just this last week, no fewer than three people said they either didn't have faith, didn't understand it at all?or simply that faith was irrelevant to their life.
Perhaps we have faith all wrong. We think it something we have to come up with. We have to "have faith."
Maybe we don't understand God's role in all this.
So today for insight, let us turn not the great book, but a great book? by a writer better known for his sybaritic ways than his theological insights -- one F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Here, a reading from the Great Gatsby. Speaking is Nick, the impressionable young man. He is talking about how he perceives Gatsby. Listen closely, please...
"He smiled understandingly -- much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced -- or seemed to face -- the whole external world for an instant, and then, concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just so far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey."
As we ponder those words, is this not God's nature? Is this not the way God perceives us, his created beings?
So here we are, trudging through life grasping at faith, working at faith, struggling with faith, angry about not having faith. And there is God, as Fitzgerald so simply and elegantly,b and inadvertently, presents him, witth...
A quality of eternal reassurance..
an irresistible prejudice in your favor...
That Someone who ?believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself...
Realistically, putting hell, fire and damnation and fine theological distinctions aside, doesn't this make sense? How could God do all this creating and not absolutely love the work of his hands. Not want the best for all of us. If we as parents or friends wish for our loved ones to do well, to have that irresistible prejudice in their favor -- could God wish for any less?
So this week, the assignment from this lecturer is to do nothing to enhance your faith. Don't work on it, don't worry about it.
Turn the tables instead. Turn your face to that one who believes in you as you would like to believe in yourself. And after all, if He believes so deeply and so positively in you and me, it becomes so much easier for each of us to believe in our selves and our basic goodness. And to feel that power to shape our lives and this world into that beautiful something we just know they can be.
Paul Wilkes is an adjunct lecturer in UNCW's English Department and the creator of New Beginnings, a three-hour program for church revitalization.