Faith and Belief
A few Sundays past we had the discussion about Samuel the Lamanite in class. While usually the class is animated, this one felt alive. Whether it was a new instructor; the exciting story of a man standing on a wall not being a successful target; or just the present climate (social and political) I’m not certain. Still, I was left with the feeling that something was missing. What motivated Samuel to climb onto a wall and face those “fiery darts”? (1 Nephi 15:24) What would it take to motivate me? Faith? Belief? What is Faith really? How is it different from belief? Why is it usually seen as a stronger motivation than knowledge? Do I have enough of it? Is it possible or even necessary to toss enough into the discussion?
Paul tells the Hebrews, and us, that “. . . Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. . .“ Evidence. I liked that. (Heb 1:11)
What I’ve discovered is that any time I try and talk about, think about, or define Faith, there is always action involved. There is no way I’ve been able to study it without the inclusion of action of some sort or another.
So I reflected, perhaps it is a verb? Then, my husband challenged me to put it into a sentence as a verb and of course it just didn’t work well. “Go Faith.” “Tomorrow I’ll Faith.” “I’m devoted to Faithing.” -Yet neither did thinking or trying to come up with a situation where it was intrinsic.
So what is the difference between Believe and ‘Faith’? Why can I say, “I believe.” But I can’t say, “I Faith.”? I have to be IN it or HAVE it or USE it or be WITH it. I can HAVE belief, I can exercise it, but there is no form of Faith that turns it into a verb syntax in language, at least not in English.
And what of belief? It seems to have a innate lack of action incorporated into it, yet it has a verb form. Like the man who had the lunatic son. Like the man who had the lunatic son, who believed in the Lord, but still felt it wasn’t enough, often we too long for the action to back up our conviction. He wanted more and implored the Lord. “And immediately the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” Mark 9:24
Does that ‘help’ evolve belief into faith?
There are women of Faith, like Ruth who didn’t simply believe that she would be taken care of, but lay at the feet of Boaz to open the door to her future. Like Abish who not only believed in the vision of her father, but when she was able, ran from door to door to share the wonder of a moment she expected would open eyes that her small voice hadn’t been able to. Like Emma who did all that was asked of her, like the ‘little maid’ who told her mistress what she knew of the power of a prophet’s voice, and countless others who each acted on their belief to define their Faith.
There are men of great Faith whose actions guided their spirit and responses to great difficulties both in and out of spiritual realms. Often we think immediately of Abraham and his amazing belief: “who believed God and the Lord counted it for righteousness?” Genesis 15:6. Is there even a great person that didn’t have Faith somewhere in their arsenal of qualities that made or make them role models? I can’t think of any.
The articles of Faith all begin with “We believe. . .” (except for number 11- “We claim”). Could it be that belief precludes faith? That it is something we begin with even before the ‘little seed’ that we plant; A hope, an idea, a statement of conviction that is given legs and movement and becomes Faith? Sometimes we slip-up in the definition of Faith and state that “Faith is the first principle of the gospel” but it isn’t; Faith in Jesus Christ is. The difference is huge. Faith can’t stand alone; it is always Faith IN something, someone.
What then do I do that defines mine? I write. I pray. I offer my resources when I can and my heart always, but is that enough? Does that prove my Faith or my intent or my willingness? Perhaps Faith is just that, the hope and willingness to act ‘as if’ and let everything fall into place. Perhaps it is possessing that tiny seed of desire, that is the catalyst for all else to follow. Perhaps it is belief plus desire that leads to action.
- What do you think?
- Is there a difference?
- Is that difference significant?