My grandfather was a machinist. He spent his whole life making and repairing machines. He had a small workshop in his garage. Toward the end of his life he would sit on his stool in his garage where he built a metal cylinder that contained two pistons. He attached a water source to the piston in hopes that they would turn the attached metal platform. He was trying to build a perpetual-motion-machine.
My father went to college and got his master’s degree in Physics. I remember one conversation my father had with my grandfather. My father said that having a perpetual-motion-machine was impossible. Everything we have on earth that puts out motion or energy needs to have some type of fuel, or energy to keep it going. (When I heard their discussion as a child, I was secretly pulling for my grandfather).
This principle is true for our faith life. Some people assume that once they get baptized, they can just sail along for the rest of their lives on their Baptismal graces. This would surely make Baptism into some kind of spiritual-perpetual-motion-event, instead of the faith event that it is.
Baptism brings us into the community of faith. We become children of God. We become part of God’s family – God is our Father, Jesus is our brother, the Holy Spirit guides us through life. As we grow in faith, God expects us to give some energy to the faith we have received. Otherwise when we stop nourishing it, our faith may die.
Living a faith life that is shallow and superficial without any depth does not take any effort. This kind of faith seeks only the comfort and security that comes from religion. It avoids the hard questions of life and is frightened if anyone challenges or questions any aspect of it. This is not the kind of faith portrayed in the lives of the people in the Holy Scriptures.
For example God called Abraham to set out on a journey to a place to which he had never been. God was his only guide. He needed to put out a lot of energy. He had to be alert to his surroundings as he moved from place to place.
The image we have here is not one of comfort and security. It is just the opposite. The hardships and insecurity of travel in those ancient times were well-known facts. Being on a journey was not anyone’s idea of a holiday. You might not come back alive! Danger was all around. On such a journey you could not afford to be distracted.
In our daily lives we fight against distractions by trying to keep focused. Whether we are driving a car or walking by a road, or operating some dangerous machinery, we have to focus on what we are doing. If we do not, we can quickly fall into dangerous and perhaps fatal situations. We also need a focused faith to see the faith implications in every human situation.
Our faith is not a passive virtue. It does not protect us from the world. It helps us remake the world after the image of Christ who commanded us to love one another as He has loved us. The place where God wants us to serve the needs of others is where we find ourselves in life today.
A living faith is a faith that believes that God is to be found anywhere and at anytime. A person with this kind of faith senses that his or her response to every person and every situation is ultimately a faith response. This is so because he or she believes that God is made known through the ordinary events of life.
If we only encounter God on Sundays, then our understanding of God and our faith is very shallow.