Whenever we talk about life and living, we will bring up the subject of faith. This is true whether we’re talking about religion or about the things we learn in school. When a man and a woman decide to get married, whether they are thinking religiously or secularly, they will certainly be assuming that they have faith in each other and that their love will keep their marriage intact.

Over the years, I have come to realize that there are three levels of faith. The upper level is in the head. It is mental and intellectual. It involves thinking things through and coming to believe in them. The middle level is in the heart. It is deep and emotional. It involves feeling strongly enough about the things that you have come to believe that you will trust your life and your very being to them. The lower level is in the hand. It is physical and out in front of you. It involves your body and your physical strength. It involves committing yourself to putting into practice what you have come to believe and trust.

Remember these three words: Head, Heart, and Hand. Faith involves your thinking, your trusting, and your commitment.

Whenever I am speaking from the pulpit, I begin with the upper level of faith. I have learned that people will not be offended if I begin with their thinking. I am treating them as reasonable people. They like to be respected as such, and they will listen as I begin to explain what a certain portion of the Bible is saying. Many people have commented to me over the years with words like these: “I learn so much when I listen to what you’re teaching about the Bible.”

Then I move into the middle level of faith. I talk about the great love that God has for His creation, and we are His creatures, His children. I talk about how God revealed His love to us by sending His Son to us in this world, how Jesus taught us about love. Because of His great love for us, He went to the cross of Calvary to atone for all our sins. Jesus rose from the dead and is alive today at the right hand of the Father. He promises us that if we will trust Him as our personal Savior, we will receive forgiveness and new life. We begin to feel a profound sense of self-worth and a reason for living.

Thirdly, I come to the lower level of faith. I suggest that they take this new life and commit themselves to live it in their daily affairs. Put your hand to work. Give someone a hand. Help others. Don’t just talk, do. Your actions will speak more loudly than your words. Now you are accepting Jesus as your personal Lord.

Remember Jesus called His followers the light of the world. Then He added that they let their light so shine before others that the others, who saw their good deeds, would praise the Father who is in heaven

(Matthew 5:14, 16).

With all of this, it’s time for a benediction and a challenge to go into the world as a person of faith — in your thinking, in your trusting, and in your commitment.

The Rev. Richard H. Petersen, Ph.D., is pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church, retired.


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