What is faith about? Rather than just belief in the unbelievable, faith can be understood as a state of being that isn’t necessarily a choice. Luther talks about faith as a gift from God, citing Ephesians 2:8 – “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God…”
Ok, so faith is a gift, and a state of being that includes what one theologian calls “ultimate concern” (Tillich, Dynamics of Faith, 1957). In this way, faith means being ultimately concerned with ultimate things, aka God.
This “concern” shows a direction of attention and a closeness between two parties (if they are concerned about one another, they are close in a way). So, faith in God means being concerned and drawn toward God through that concern. This might look like devotional practices, or prayer, or service, or learning, or worship!
Faith as ultimate concern means that God can also be faithful, as is expressed in many Psalms (33:4, 36:5, 92:2, 100:5, 119:90, etc. etc. etc.). Just as we are ultimately concerned with God, God is ultimately concerned with us! :-0
How is concern a gift from God? We all feel concerned from time to time, and rather than it being a negative thing, directing that concern toward God in devotion, service, and worship brings forth healing, love, and a free exchange of giftedness. Faith in God overflows into connection to one another.
– Vicar Aaron Musser