How do we experience faith?

I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea. -Exodus 15:1

Dear members and friends,

Moses believed in the Lord, because he not only had the special and personal calling by the Lord, but also directly experienced the power of his God in performing wonders before Pharaoh. The Israelites witnessed the wonders performed by means of Moses, and thus believed in their God. Now, in Exodus 15, Moses is singing a song of utmost joy because he with the Israelites just witnessed yet another wonder of their God. They had an absolutely clear reason to believe in their God! However, how should we believe in God some 3,200 years later, especially without experiencing any amazing wonders? 

Having faith in God essentially is a very personal matter because the objective of one’s faith is beyond the human ability to either prove or disprove. Thus, faith is often the total sum of accumulated knowledge and understanding of one’s personal experiences of the Divine. The German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834), who is often described as the father of modern theology, offers this explanation about religion in his Addresses on Religion: 

Religion is the outcome neither of the fear of death, nor of the fear of God. It answers a deep need in man. It is neither a metaphysic, nor a morality, but above all and essentially an intuition and a feeling. … Dogmas are not, properly speaking, part of religion: rather it is that they are derived from it.

“An intuition and a feeling” are very subjective experiences, which happen within one’s mind, and thus are often impossible to share with others, or even adequately explain what they are. The important matter is to be clear on what you are experiencing and understanding and what that means to you. Consequently, you might better understand how your personal experience of the Divine influences your daily life and your relationship with others. After all, having faith in God means living a different quality of life from those who do not have faith: the expression of love, care, and kindness toward all living beings could be a vivid sign of a person with strong faith. 

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee