Vicar's Letter - 18.05

   Vicar’s Letter – Moral Fibre

One of the things said to diminish the place of faith in our lives is that it is merely a crutch for those who are weak. This statement seems to assume that all those without belief in God are strong enough to make their way through life alone without the need of any outside help. And yet…

It might not surprise you to find that there is nowhere in the Bible, that I am aware of, that faith is described as a crutch. From Jesus there is the idea that trusting in God provides a firm foundation for our lives. Later St Paul often describes putting on the faith of Christ like a garment, which changes our identity. But by far commonest way of thinking about faith is as an internal component of our lives that gives us strength and peace.  

You see faith is not something that you carry around with you, that you might forget to pick up one day, leave on the shelf or carelessly lose while out shopping. Faith lives within us and spreads through us to affect every part of our lives.

In my college biology lessons, now a long, long time ago I admit, I still remember the day we were told about a compound called lignin that has changed the face of our planet. You see lignin is the name of the molecule that strengthens the cell walls of plants so that they can grow vertically. Without lignin plants would not be taller than a few millimeters. Lignin makes up around a third of the weight of a log, it’s there in the stem of a daffodil as well as in the trunk of a mighty oak tree. The more lignin that is present the stronger the plant is. It allows trees to bend in the wind and reach up to the sky above.

This for me is a much better picture of what faith looks like in us. It is the component of us that helps us to grow up and cope with the buffeting nature of the world around us. I believe that every strong person has as strong faith in something. It follows that faith is the thing that gives us moral fibre.

Having a faith does not protect us from the troubles that we might encounter. Instead it gives us the strength to carry on despite those difficulties. I have seen this at work again and again in people’s lives. Exactly the same event can happen to two individuals; their response determined by the depth of their faith. As spring brings forth the new growth in the garden and the forest all around us it might be a good time to reconsider where your faith lies. For me faith is best seen as an internal moral fibre and in troubled times we all benefit from as much of that as we can hold onto.

May the God of faith bless us with his strength and peace,                         Neil

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