Q&R with Brad Jersak “Is faith a requirement?”
I’ve been on a journey today trying to process.
Faith in Christ still requires me. There is something wrong with this wording or something wrong with my understanding. It can’t be dependent on me. How can it be that God has covered our side of the covenant, yet it is our faith that somehow magically leverages God into some action? “Your faith has healed you.” Then I have to ask, “Who is God, us or him if our faith is the working component?
I get the need for participation. But what is the secret sauce to the inherent conflict of surrender and participation? How does one reconcile the two?
Before I respond, I think this is a teachable moment for readers. Do you see how important it is to risk asking questions? The question doesn’t just demand an answer; it creates a conversation and invites both parties to a creative dialogue where we collaborate to compare perspectives in our shared quest for insight. This was a wonderful example. Now to the questions:
Three statements are up for interrogation:
- 1. “Faith in Christ *requires* me.”
- 2. “Faith magically *leverages* God into action.”
- 3. “…if our faith is the *working component*.”
Addressing my conversation partner now:
By wording your questions in these ways, you have helpfully exposed a problem typical of the underlying framework. Namely, seeing faith as transactional (or mechanistic) rather than reciprocal (as in a relationship). I do say more about this HERE, but I’ll be more concise here: having exposed the cringe words (require, leverage, working component), we can dismiss them quickly by reframing faith inside a spousal relationship (as God does by calling it a covenant).
I know your wife loves you dearly. What does that “require” of you? That word may not be altogether false, but as you note, it also seems off somehow and certainly insufficient. It misses the relational heart of the matter. So, let’s brainstorm for better words: her love is offered, invites you, welcomes you, inspires you. To what? Love opens the way for us to consent, participate, receive, respond, reciprocate, and Love even calls us to willing faithfulness.
And as her husband, in your love for her, your openness and receptivity to her love, your gratitude for and surrender to her love—does that “leverage” her? Again, wrong word. Your “faith” doesn’t cause her to offer something she has not already freely given you. It is simply that you enter the lived experience of her love, even deliberately, every time your heart turns to her. And yes, your “faith” in her love (your YES to her love) heals you, but ultimately, it’s her love that heals you, experienced as you turn to her and welcome it. Your consent and participation are “required,” not to make her love you but because that is the nature of every loving relationship.