God is Simple (1)
God is simple, and God's desire for us is simple. Abundant life for all. But while God may be simple, human beings are not. In practice, the application of this simple process is usually complicated, often contradictory, endlessly varied, and frequently resisted. It is a process of bringing order out of chaos: of honouring diversity, discovering common ground, building on shared values, and in so doing, reconciling extremes.
Human beings are complex, multi-layered personalities. In addition, each one of us carries wounds from our past. So the faith-process is never straightforward. Indeed it is likely that all our story-telling originates in our need to make sense of the human journey, of the way in which we need to see, think, speak and behave if we are to live life to the full. Despite the vast diversity of stories we tell, they all touch on a single, universal theme: how do we gain abundant life? And what happens if we fail?
Because we do fail. What we realise is never quite what we have seen, and if we have invested too much of ourselves in one very specific, closely-defined outcome, then we will probably be disappointed. Such setbacks raise in us an anxiety that the "abundance" we dream of is lost, or was never intended for us at all, or is forever unattainable. This is our greatest fear: that instead of being intended for life, we have been abandoned to death, a death, moreover, that is more than the cessation of life. What we fear most is the destruction of everything that we have ever valued: the utter annihilation of every good that we have ever known.
Faith and fear are active within us as two dynamics moving in opposite directions. Each moment, we choose between the two, by choosing how we are going to think about an event or situation. Generally, we use ways of thinking that were ingrained in us at an early age, that we learned from those around us as we were growing up, and which have therefore become habitual to us. Using these routine ways of thinking, our choice is made before we open our mouths to speak or move our bodies to act. And this choice is between processes governed by faith or processes governed by fear, because most, if not all, our mental processes are governed by one or the other. Moment by moment, we choose whether we are going to live from faith or from fear.
The life of faith begins as we realise that we are making this choice, and as we decide that, as often as we can, we will choose ways of thinking that are governed by faith, that tend towards creativity, life and abundance. The life of faith continues as we hold to that choice; and deepens as we hold to it despite the obstacles that fear throws in our way.