In an earlier post I mentioned how a NASA psychologist said that the trapped Chilean miners had “faith in their religion.” This was said on a NOVA program about the rescue effort. In that earlier post, I said “You don’t have faith in a religion, or if you do, it is certainly misplaced faith. You have faith in God, not in a religion.” I want to expand upon that statement.
To define terms, I define a religion as that set of beliefs and practices that best expresses your faith. Just as a sacrament is an outward sign of an inward conviction, so religious practices are outward signs of your inward faith. Your faith is not in your religion, but in God or some “higher power” or a particular philosophy that guides your life.
For Christians, how does the Church fit in with this? The Church is a gathering of like-minded people who come together to practice their religion. The Church is not an organization, although there is structure to it. The Church is not the clergy, although they are part of it. The Church is not a set of doctrines, although doctrines guide and clarify beliefs. First and foremost, the Church is all of its members, who gather for regular worship, for fellowship and mutual support, to grow in their faith through education (Bible studies, Sunday school), and to conduct various ministries, outreaches, and missions to tell others about God, to help to relieve suffering in the world, and fight injustice.
Therefore, your faith is not in a particular church, because it is merely a vehicle for practicing your religion. Your faith isn’t in your religion, because religion consists of a set of practices and an organized compilation of beliefs in God. Your faith isn’t even in the Bible, because the Bible reveals God and God’s truths to us. It also is a vehicle, not the object of our faith. Our faith must be in God, not in the instruments that point to God.
Those who don’t place their faith in God ipso facto place their faith in something else. In my opinion, placing your faith in anything else but God is faith that is misplaced. In what else do people place their faith? In the Church (as I mentioned earlier); in technology; in government; in political correctness; in other people or themselves, to name a few. Let me ask you, Where are you placing your faith?