Steps to faith development

By Rev. Fr. Eva Chuma Nnamene

With His gift of faith, God gave us the possibility for faith formation. It is a latent faith that we need to develop. It is not yet a full blown faith. It is, rather, like a fertile ground for faith formation. Our God-given faith needs our efforts to grow.

St Augustine says "God, who created you without you, cannot save you without you". In other words, in spite of His omnipotence and omniscience, God expects us to do something to save ourselves, and in another parlance, to develop our faith. Here are few steps that would lead to proper faith development.

  1. Awareness of the existence of God: This is a first step to faith formation. Being aware of the existence of God is the launching pad for faith formation. You know, it may be easy to presume that everyone is aware of God's existence. But that may not be true. There are those who doubt that God exists; and there are those who claim he does not exist; and there are those who stake their lives to profess His existence.

    To form our faith, we have to believe that God exists. The Psalmist says only the fool says in his heart "there is no God" (Psalms 14: 1; 53: 1). So, there is God, and we have to be aware of Him. He must become real to us. He is present in His ministers (2 Corinthians 4: 7), He is present in His Word (John 1: 1-14), He is present in Holy Eucharist (Matthew 26: 26-29), He is present in the gathering of His people (Matthew 18: 18-20).

  2. Open your heart: This second step is as important as the first. We can be aware of somebody's presence, yet we have no interactions with the person. Think of two next door neighbours who do not talk to each other. Think about the husband and wife who spend their time under the same roof, share the same bed, but are not in talking terms. It could be horrible. We may be aware of someone's presence, but remain closed to him/her. Open the door of your heart to your God.

    He is our God, and even commands the power that would make us do whatever He decrees, but He loves the fact that He made us to be free human beings. We choose whatever we want, but you know the Igbo saying: agbacha oso, aguo maili. God expects us to open to Him.
    br /> This is even conceived in the Book of Revelation: "I stand at the door, and knock, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me" (Rev. 3: 20). Whatever we do comes from our hearts. The heart is the pivotal point of our lives. Therein we have to let God.

  3. Seek God first: Awareness of God's existence and openness of heart would naturally move us to action. And the action is to reach out to Him whom we are aware of His presence and open to relate with. In our familiar setting, when we are aware of our neighbour's presence, and our hearts are open to him/her, we really reach out to express pleasantries and interactions. The same should be true in our relationship with God.

    God expects us to search out for Him. "Seek you first the kingdom of God, and its righteousness, every other thing shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6: 33). When we seek God first, we put the horse before the cart, but when we seek other things of life first, we put the cart before the horse; and whence the cart is before the horse, progressive movement would be impossible.

    Some people treat God as a spare tire that is only remembered when the main one is down and flat. In various scriptural passages, we are called upon to make God first in our lives: "Lay for yourselves treasures in heaven" (Matthew 6: 19-21); "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Gal. 2: 20); "Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established" (Proverbs 16: 3); "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Matthew 22: 37), and many more. At times on our cell phones friends and family members call us. They say, "I just want to hear your voice". We should interact with God, just to hear him. And the safest place we do that in our prayers. Prayer is telephone to heaven.

  4. Discover God: It is important to make out time to discover God in the various ways He manifests Himself to us. The first place we find Him is in His Word. Pick up your Bible today. Read it to discover your Creator. St Jerome would say "ignorance of the Bible is ignorance of Christ". Pick up your rosary today. Say it to ask Our Mother Mary to intercede for you.

    Remember the wedding feast at Cana (John 2: 1-11). When She came, Her Son was necessarily there. And you know what happened. Discover God in His Church, in His Sacraments, in His ministers, in the Church societies and associations, in the several activities of the Church. Be part of all those.

  5. Love your God and your neighbour: Love of God and neighbour is the height of our faith formation. That is the deepest of expression of our faith. Christ teaches love of God and neighbour is the greatest commandment (Luke 10: 27; Matthew 22: 37).

    He Himself shed His blood for His friends (John 15: 13). At the end of our lives on earth, we would be judge by how we were able to love or not (Matthew 25: 32-46). Love of God and neighbour is an only place we have no rivalries, and we have no challengers. It is the only place our faith would shine forth. Let us develop our faith to love God and our neighbours.

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