How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Belief, Faith and Commitment
Belief at its simplest is assumed truth, though challenging this reopens the bag of worms when considering the nature of truth, particularly as an experienced phenomenon. Splitting this hair can lead to a division into feelings of belief, faith and conviction.
Belief as experienced and described is often incomplete. For example, when people say they believe in God, they are really expressing a hope as they consciously choose to believe rather than holding a deeper faith or conviction. 'Belief in' is a rather vague statement and often reflects the inner uncertainty of people talking in this way.
Belief is often a foundation on which reasonable choices are made. We believe in scientific laws and social values, then base our thinking on these. In this way, beyond the initial belief, there may well be plenty of reasoning as we continue to be concerned about cause and effect and answering the question 'Why?'
Faith is still belief, but it has subtle and different meaning. Faith is a feeling. It has more emotional depth than simple belief. You can believe and be agnostic. Having faith means giving up agnosticism.
Faith in God is different to belief in God. It cedes power and choice, assuming God knows best and will always do the right thing. In this way, faith involves submission. It eases the tension of doubt that may well linger with a simple belief in God. It hence brings the comfort of closure, letting us forget many of our worries as we assume God will take care of these.
The same principle applies in secular settings when we say 'Have faith in me' as we urge others to let us do as we will without their interruption. We also have faith in parents, teachers and advisors as we let them guide our lives.
Beyond faith is commitment, in which the tables are turned as we show the depths of our true belief through our consistent actions.
In religion we may show commitment through regular church attendance, missionary work or just avoiding temptations that we are told are wrong. In our jobs we work hard for our employers, even taking work home.
Commitment is a reciprocal act. We have faith, assuming others will care for
us. In return we give beyond a this-for-that exchange. In religion, the reward
may be going to heaven when we die, perhaps with enough extra forgiveness to let
us in. In marriage, we have faith in our spouse's commitment to us and so commit
ourselves in return.