4 Have God's Faith!
Jesus answered them, "Have faith in God.
From the pulpits preachers always urge us to believe in God and in Christ. We are surely saved by faith in God and in Jesus Christ, not by the works of the law, as Paul declares. Jesus also says, "Have God's faith." The word of Jesus is usually translated as "Have faith in God." But the word-for-word translation of this verse is "Have pistis of God," or "Have God's pistis." In this phrase "pistis" is a Greek word that means faith, faithfulness or honesty, and after this word follows the genitive form (possessive case) of God, "God's."
What would the expression "Have pistis of God" mean, then? Usually this genitive form is interpreted as object of pisitis and translated, "Have faith in God." In this translation God is the object of our belief, our faith. But I am sure that this genitive form of God should be understood as subjective, and Jesus' word must be translated literally as "Have God's faith! "
I think Jesus' words should be understood and interpreted in the context of Jewish piety as described in the Hebrew Scripture. In the Scripture, the God of Israel, Yahweh, reveals Himself as their merciful and faithful Deliverer throughout the history of the nation of Israel through the use of prophets. Israelites, in return, responded through praise and prayer, as indicated in Psalms. Specifically, their thanks and praises focus on His mercifulness, in Hebrew His 'Hesed', and His faithfulness, in Hebrew His 'Emunah' or 'Emeth', as seen in Ps. 26.3, 117:1~2 and a number of other places in Psalms. God's faithfulness and reliability are symbolized by a large immovable and intangible rock in Duet.32:1~4. I have always wondered why the New Testament Gospel does not emphasize God's faithfulness or reliability as strongly as God's mercy and love. Maybe God's faithfulness, His integrity, the unity of God's inner person and His words, so implicitly presupposes the existence of the whole universe that it does not require mentioning anew.
We urge you to give up or throw away your own faith, and live by relying solely on God's faith. We have to undergo a Copernicus revolution in the way we experience faith. We have to change the basis of our religious life from our own faith to God's faith. Our own faith is weak and changeable. At first we firmly decide to follow Jesus and believe in God, and soon we fall into doubts and feel sad about our lack of willpower. We sense just how feeble our own faith can be. The weakness is inherent to the very nature of humanity. The only rock on which we should lay our life is God's faith.
When Jesus said, "Have God's faithfulness!" to his disciples, he meant that we should throw away our own faith and live our spiritual life depending only on the faithfulness or reliability of God. Let's consider a real life example: in trade we act dependently and rely on the assumption that our trading partner will act faithfully and reliably, not on our own faith or integrity. When we send merchandise to someone, we assume that our partner will be faithful to the arrangement and pay the due sum. In this case your own faithfulness or integrity does not come into play. Believing in God is the same. By relying only on God's faith, we do the Word of God (as defined in Luke 8:21 RSV), or act according to the Word of God, our partner. In this process, one's own faith or integrity becomes irrelevant.
This understanding of God's faith makes for a better interpretation of Jesus' complex words in Mark 11:23~24. Jesus says: "Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours" ( NRSV). I was deeply troubled when I first read those verses. Who can possibly claim such faith and certainty? If one could have such conviction, he could say to the leaf of a tree, "Appear as a bill!" Believing in God does not mean claiming such conviction. It means acting according to God's words while relying only on God's faith! By doing so, we do not rely on our own faith or conviction, it would be nonsensical.
These words of Jesus show that there is nothing impossible for God to accomplish as long as we believe in Him. This means that, when we act and live obeying God's words, relying only on God's faith, God's words will be accomplished in us. Sometimes we face insurmountable challenges in our lives, but still we strive to act by following God's words, relying only on God's faithfulness. And the gospel of Christ is the ultimate word of God, the creator of the world, so there is nothing we cannot act upon when answering to the call of God and obeying the words of God as revealed in the Gospel. For example, while the resurrection of the dead on the last day is unfathomable to us, we can still live our whole lives aiming for this impossible reality, as Paul did (Phil.3:20~21), relying on God's faith alone.
Finally I urge you again to throw away your own faith, a faith that is feeble and can not be the basis of your relation with God. Have God's faith! Live your whole life relying only on God's faithfulness or God's integrity. Then God's words will be done in your life, for there is nothing God cannot accomplish.