I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed, or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. -Genesis 45:4-5
Dear members and friends
Faith is a topic that deserves a deep and thoughtful reflection. Having faith in most religious communities often illicites respect and praise from fellow worshipers. However, when asked, many religious people seem to struggle to explain what it means to have faith or how to cultivate it. I was taught an explanation regarding faith when I was attending a Korean Presbyterian church in Korea: faith is believing what is taught by the leaders of the church without doubt. I was deeply challenged by this explanation for two reasons. First, I could not understand how believing the teachings of the church leaders, who are mere humans, was the same as believing in God, who is the eternal Divine. Second, I could not accept the fact that questioning and doubt was discouraged, which to my mind was crucial to fully understand, acknowledge and accept something as true.
In his book Doctrine of Faith, Swedenborg insists, “Faith is an internal acknowledgement of truth.” Further, “Real faith is nothing else than an acknowledgment that the thing is so because it is true; for one who is in real faith thinks and says, ‘This is true, and therefore I believe it.’ For faith is of truth, and truth is of faith.” Swedenborg emphasizes the importance of having our own understanding as the critical step for us to acknowledge and accept anything as true. There are two reasons for this: first, our intelligent brain is given by God for that purpose; second, our mind is designed by God in such a way that it cannot accept anything as true unless it acknowledges the truth of that thing with its own reasoning. So unlike the version of faith I was taught when I was young, the great Creator who created the whole universe would not force us to believe anything when we do not see the meaning of accepting it as true. The fact is, anything that we accept as true without acknowledging its meaning and truth by our own reasoning would not stay in our minds as true.
My friends and family in God, let us come to God with many questions and even doubts and be free to address them to our Creator. The God of eternal wisdom loves our questions and doubts because it is by God’s design that we question and doubt when we hear something that is alien to our mind, even if it were to be truth from God.
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee