Living by faith changes our relationship to the fury of penalties and the slavery of perfection. It changes the way we think about time and success. It is empowering and at the same time humbling.
“In classic Lutheran teaching, the salvation of the believer “by faith alone” does not curtail the need for constant charitable good works, as ill-informed critics allege. Faith, rather, empowers the believer to act in the world by taking the worry out of his present and future religious life.” So says Steve Ozment in his article from the New York Times Opinion page on the nature of Germanys austerity program. He has succinctly tied up a conundrum about living by faith. We don’t live in optimism or pessimism. We know that we are not really in control of outcomes. On the one hand “whatever is at hand” we do to the best of our ability even acting as if God did not exist (we’ll explain that at another time), and at the same time recognizing that God controls all things.
Someone once said that if you “get” Psalm 127 verses 1-2 “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain. 2In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he provides food to those he loves while they sleep”.” That passage is so counter intuitive that some have translated the last few words as “he grants sleep tothose he loves.” A famous theologian has said, that if you understand this Psalm you understand what it means to live by faith.