Additional "From Further Afield" Articles


Published: 12/18/2012 3:06:37 PM


"Faith is what gives life shape and meaning."

Good thought, right?  One most of us would more or less agree with, I’d suppose.  But what if I told you that this rather insightful sentence wasn’t proclaimed by a theologian or a pastor or even an obvious church-goer?  In fact, this quote was taken from a character (Marshall) in the sitcom How I Met Your Mother.  While I am not extolling the virtues of this particular show, many of my students are wildly fascinated by it, so I chose to watch the episode where faith is mentioned during one class period.  My students are learning English, so it gave them a chance to practice their listening and cognitive skills and then apply what they heard to their lives.

If you are at all familiar with the character of Marshall, you could probably guess that he’s not talking about faith in Jesus when he says this.  In fact, he is discussing his own faith in the enigmas of the mystical and unexplained phenomena and creatures like bigfoot and werewolves.  For him, this is what gives his life shape and meaning, so I took the opportunity to poll my students and ask them what they have faith in and how that makes a difference in their lives.  I received both funny and heartfelt responses; among my favorite are the following: "True love,” "I have faith that after something really bad happens, something good will then happen,” "Myself,” "My family,” "Twilight” (yes, the book…perhaps that person misunderstood the question…), "Jesus.”  With the possible exception of Twilight, I don’t think that any of them are inherently bad things to believe in.  They are positive and even heartwarming, but where do they leave us?  You might think that you have attained true love only to see it fall to pieces around you, situations might cause you hurt and pain over and over again, and you even may doubt yourself and even those that love you the most.  

This leads us to the question of the object of our faith.  Faith may give our life shape and meaning, but the object of that faith must be more important than the faith by itself.  I can believe with every fiber of my being that my pen is a pencil, but that doesn’t make the reality that it is a pen any less true.  More seriously, I can believe that being a good person will save me, but my faith doesn’t make that true either.  There is a greater truth that is not man-made; instead, Jesus Himself tells us, "I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)  The only way to salvation is believing in Jesus as our Savior; He does not leave us with a crumbled life and a false faith.  He never changes and will not disappoint us.  The other truths we make for ourselves to believe in might be widely propagated, but yet, they are false.  

Finally, the idea of faith is not a new concept, even to those outside of the church.  I would even wager that everyone has faith in something.  However, faith in Jesus just might be the new concept.  I pray that all of us might have enough wisdom to meet people at the common crossroads of faith and enough boldness to share that mere faith is not enough.  It is the object of that faith which really matters.

Er?s vár a mi Istenünk, (A Mighty Fortress Is Our God)

Contributed by Sarah Berta-Somogyi

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