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Friday, May 25, 2012

Stepping Out in Faith

What's the difference between "stepping out in faith" and risk-taking? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, p. 604).

The life and death of Jesus clearly shows that "stepping out in faith" can often carry great risk. In fact, it is difficult to imagine the role of Christ played by a totally risk-averse person. He was "counter-cultural" and thus met serious flak from the keepers of culture. He said that he did not come to end law but to fulfill it. That is, his purpose was to fulfill the spirit of the law and not just the letter of the law. The practical result of focusing on spirit and not letter is that one is subject to the self-righteous wrath of those obtaining greatest worth from living self-righteously and legalistically. This makes one vulnerable to the aggressive reactions arising from active and determined ill will. Wrath hath no fury like that of offended sanctimony.

So what distinguishes one who is "stepping out in faith" from flagrant indulgence in risky behavior? The answer lies in purpose. Risky behavior engaged in for its own sake is ultimately based on selfishness. "Stepping out in faith" serves God and others first and self only secondarily and in a long-term (sometimes very long-term) perspective. Thus, risky behavior is often characterized by impatience, immediacy, and, half-baked objectives; while faith behavior is characterized by patience, vision, and confident trust in long-term fruition. The first is characterized by a nervous instability while the second by a confident steadiness. While faith behavior often comes with great risks in the short-term, the believer trusts that long-term risks are nil. The calm assurance of steadfast faith provides stark contrast to the neuroticisms of the moment that often characterize the play-out of current events.

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