Estimates vary from 2% to 14%. That’s the percentage of the world’s population that is atheist or unaffiliated with any religion. That means that between 86% and 98% of mankind are “people of faith”. I do not identify as a person of faith. I do not stand with people of faith. This is not to suggest that I am atheist or unaffiliated. It is simply that such an identity is meaningless.
A person can have faith in just about anything. A Hindu or an animist can have faith in hundreds of gods or spirits. A Muslim or a Sikh can have faith in one. In the West, it is popular to make up one’s own religion. This is usually from the cafeteria of ideas, having a taste of this or that doctrine until one finds several palatable dishes to arrange at will on the tray of belief. The dishes will usually have Christian names, though the list of ingredients will vary greatly.
Of what benefit is it to be a person of faith? Does it somehow make me a better person than the 2% to 14% that aren’t? Does it somehow better the world around me? Faith, in and of itself, is meaningless. Even a belief in something transcendent or other than ourselves is valueless.
The value in the faith in the the value of the object of that faith. I believe that the only object of value for faith is God as revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ. That is what makes me a Christian, not just a person of faith. It is not my faith that makes the difference. It is Jesus Who makes the difference.
I agree with the late songwriter Rich Mullins, who penned, “And I believe what I believe is what makes me what I am.” [emphasis mine] That is why I try to love everyone made in the image of God and at the same time recognize that if they are not in Christ, they are separated from the God Who loves them, too.
I also recognize that their ethics, values and morality are different from mine. All sorts of people of faith can support all sort of values. Sometimes they intersect with mine, and we can join together in common cause for the moment, but only for the moment. Many Muslims are anti-abortion. I’m anti-abortion. All well and good.
Many Muslims want the world to come into submission to Islam, by force if necessary. I want the world to come into submission to Jesus Christ, without force or political pressure. Not compatible. But I believe what they believe is what makes them what they are. People of faith.
Of course sometimes it gets interesting. There are atheists that want to see undocumented immigrants treated the same as citizens. There are Christians who want them mistreated as second class humans. There are times with people of no faith have values that are more compatible with Christ than those who claim to follow Him. So there are Christians who don’t believe what I believe and it makes them what they are. People of faith.
So don’t call me a person of faith. I have faith, but only faith in Jesus. I desire, and miserably fail much of the time, to live a life by the morals, ethics and values exemplified by Jesus as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, which is as they have been understood by the Church led by the Holy Spirit throughout the ages. As Mullins concludes, “I did not make it. No, it is making me. It is the very truth of God, not the invention of any man.”