Faith is an entire way of life- It’s a practice and mode of transport through which you navigate and perceive the world. Faith is not about rigid and constricting rules and regulations. You are required to engage with it, not live up to it. Sink into it rather than attempt feebly to earn it. This is the pure function of devotion. There is a Biblical text detailing the story of a man called Peter, a devout Jew. While in a trance, or, as the Greek coined it, an experience of bliss, ecstasy or a spiritual trip, he had a vision. The sky opened and a sheet full of four footed animals, reptiles and wild birds descended upon the land, appearing in front of him.
Suddenly, a voice of unknown origins demanded he get up, kill and eat, an order that directly conflicted with the religious purity laws he was careful and consistent in keeping. Peter, knowing that there were guidelines on what animals he could eat, how they were to be killed and prepared and whom it was permissible to eat with, was reluctant to be overly agreeable and change his ways. He perceived this as slackness, an affront to his devotion. The voice of the Lord, upon hearing that Peter couldn’t and wouldn’t go through with the request, decided to set his mind at ease. “Nothing is unclean if God declares it to be clean.”
Our achilles heel is in succumbing easily to judgement, over questioning the validity of beliefs held that conflict ours and refusing to hold space for others. How many inherently holy ideas, people, communities, practices, thoughts and movements have we shunned, deeming unworthy and ungodly through our narrow sighted human vision? How many times have you been dismissed or declared over by family, friends or an institution because they’ve been devoted to the structure and form of faith rather than the essence it was intended to reveal?
While Peter grappled with what he’d seen, desperately trying to make sense of what was utterly nonsensical, three Roman men knocked on his door. They notified him of a Roman official who wished to have a word. Peter, immediately referring back to the Jewish purity law of non association with people of a separate faith, felt challenged. Sensing a spark of bravery within, he allowed himself to be led outside and travelled with the men until he came upon the home of Cornelius, a Roman military captain. A large crowd had gathered, standing at attention and with great curiosity as Peter approached. They invited him to come inside, eat, speak and commune with them.
Peter, gracious and truthful in equal measures explained the reason behind his lack of objection to a request that was incompatible with his personal code of ethics. God had shown him that he should never view anyone as inferior. Every leap of faith begins with the radical awareness of where you are and where you are yet to be. When life sends for you and presence knocks on your door, when you feel a divine stirring in places you never thought possible, go without protest. We’ve been deceived- the things we practice in the spirit of commitment are no measure of sanctitude. They are catalysts driving us away from the background noise and deeper into the call of love.