The Three Pillars Of Faith
|A meaningful faith is balanced
by three necessary variables. Without any of these three necessities,
faith will not be balanced properly. A good faith is like a three
legged stool in that it has
three legs necessary to prop it up and give it some supporting balance.
Without any one or all of these three
supportive factors, a believer is in serious trouble, and his or her
faith will tend to be lop sided, soured and unbalanced.
The first need of a healthy faith is that it must have a touch of transcendence to it. This transcendence is often developed through prayer and meditation, but it does take effort and self-discipline. Few people are just born doing it by nature.
To have a touch of the transcendent means an inner ability to rise above self or a situation, and to see things from a higher and different angle. It is like a bird’s eye view from above. I believe this ability was called a third eye or ear by Edgar Cayce. (Cayce was not perfect but he can be a good man to read for inspiration. He is to be read with perspective. And having perspective is what rising above self or a situation is about: a new and spiritual way to look at things and to judge where you are going.)
For example, a lemming is a large rat that every spring marches in a herd to drown themselves in a sea or river. If the lemmings were capable of a transcendent look down from above, which they are not, having no souls, they would see that their natures were leading them to disaster. And the lemmings might reason, which they do not and cannot, that too much of a natural desire in them was leading them to destroy themselves. But the lemmings are literal and one dimensional. They do not and cannot look down from some inner above at their natural but disastrous behavior. They have neither the transcendent eye or the good values (if they had the eye) to judge about what it has seen from a transcendent view.
Proverbs 16:25 says, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” What to the lemmings seems natural and right is also the way of death. In the same way a person who has no transcendent eye might follow anger self destructively to the ruin of self and others. Anger of course is a natural and helpful emotion. It seems right, seems natural and to be followed, but if followed too far, it can lead to ruin. Every now and then all of us need to rise above ourselves, look down, and make a Spiritual Values inventory.
In the same way a touch of the transcendent can save many literal folk and one dimensional thinkers from marching into a disaster. Because they ordinarily could not or would not see true reality unless they had learned how to rise to an inner above to take a transcendent bird’s eye view of things. So we see that a transcendent eye can be a saving thing. We need transcendence in faith to help us see things from different angles and newer perspectives. After all we need this Godly perspective to have a creative faith that can meet the challenges of a varied reality.
Faith also needs the right religious values. When you become transcendent enough to rise above and look down, that is not enough. That is only a beginning. Looking down on people from an inner above may make people look like ants (small), so there is a tendency to treat them like ants (in a little and unkind way.) No, in looking down there is a need for right values to judge the self and the situations correctly. Just looking down on things is not the end of the problem. You need the right values to judge and to analyze, only then can those values to be applied to circumstances and people allowing you to view them more objectively.
Transcendence helps us see the problems realistically and in proper perspective. But then you need values and knowledge on what to do and how to do it. But remember an education of the mind in values is no good without an education of the heart to match it. The best way to educate the heart is through a relationship with God or His Son, Jesus Christ. (You may note that much of the Byzantine education of today comes from the decadent education of the mind and not the heart. What is needed is a religious education that develops both mind and heart.
Is this not the truth we see today? An education of the mind has killed the heart! What we need is a religious education that will awaken the heart.
This is a truth of history, that many without good hearts have unbalanced minds filled with religious imperatives. The result has been a disaster. But the Commandments of Christ, the right teachings, cannot really be understood or applied without a good heart and the right spirit behind them. The good heart often comes from a spiritual walk with God. (Micah 6:8)
We had best learn that the right spirit comes from a personal relationship with God. Of course if you don’t believe there is a God, you can’t easily have a relationship with Him. That is the situation of so many today. They support churches and practice religious rules but have no real belief or any relationship with God. But that will never do and it is a reason why so many liberal churches today are spiritually bankrupt.
Recall the words that Jesus told Nicodemus “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3) This does not necessarily mean a revivalist experience. Awareness of the Kingdom of God comes in many ways. John Wesley said that his heart was strangely warmed for instance. But everyone needs a walk with Christ and an awareness of God’s grace to know a true heart and to maintain one through the trials of life.
A religious person trying for a whole and balanced faith that has a healthy holiness to it must learn to develop and cultivate the transcendent touch. That is the ability, often enlarged and developed through prayer and meditation, to take a quick bird’s eye view of self or circumstances. Then that person must know the right values to apply to self or a particular situation.
These religious values may be learned but they are not really personally illuminating and real until they are applied while illuminated by a walk with Christ. Then will come an awareness of God’s Kingdom breaking all around us in spite of the worst that men may do. And that is often pretty bad. Yes, people are sinners, but grace is greater. Remember: “Greater is He (the Spirit) that is in you than he (the spirit) that is in the world.” (I John 4:4)
Unless you posses and practice these three supportive legs of faith, I suggest you are not ready to think life, the religious life through. You are not ready to deal with reality in a truly spiritually mature, redemptive and Christian manner.
I paraphrase the Apostle by saying any spiritually adult faith needs a transcendent eye, good values and a walk with Christ. But the greatest of these is the walk with Christ. For you are not awakened to God unless you know God. And to know God is to be raised to a higher awareness of life. The most sublime of all experiences is Christ.
Many people may say they cannot walk with God, but that is only because they do not know how to walk with Him. They do not know how to become conscious of Him. But if you work on projects to help others, or sacrifice to bring out the Christ latent in others, or the Kingdom of God that is within you (Luke 17:2 1), you just may glimpse through grace the signature of God invisibly and invariably present in His actions of grace. Seek God and His works and His grace will be opened before you and become evident. But until you are actively seeking the good works of God, you are not ready to recognize them.
You can find God is real because through grace you may pick up the markings His trail of grace has left behind. I know God is real not only because I have met the Lord, but because I have also been where He has been. I have seen what He has done. Having seen this, I make known His faithfulness to the generations. (Psalm 89:1)
I am convinced that if you want to find grace, then do good works and help others. Be kind and not cruel. Good actions can at times prime the pump of grace. Grace comes only from God but I am convinced man may sometimes initiate it by our actions. Assume a virtue even if you don't have it, model it as if you do and that virtue may materialize in you. Do like you believe and you may fall into belief.
But remember it is a paradox of God that it takes grace to pray for grace, so when you have grace, or receive grace, or are benefited by grace, give God the glory. Glorify God in everything. Show forth His grace and remember what goes around comes around..
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.