Faith as Creative Insecurity
One of my all-time favorite cartoon series is “Peanuts” by the late Charles Schulz. I grew up with Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, and that wonderful dog who could be anybody’s pet, Snoopy. In one episode, Linus is characteristically sitting with his beloved blanket in one hand, and his thumb in his mouth. He is suddenly attacked by Snoopy, who latches onto the blanket and heads out the door with Linus hanging on for dear life. Snoopy does everything to get the blanket away from Linus: he jumps on him, trips him, and pulls him around for all he’s worth. Finally, battered and worn, Linus reappears at the door. “Are you crazy?” says common-sense Lucy. “It’s cold outside. You could catch pneumonia rolling around out there in the snow!” To which Linus replies, wearily, “The struggle for security knows no season.”
Doubt and faith, security and insecurity are concepts inextricably related to one another. We strive for security, and yet we live in an insecure world. We want to be solid in our faith, yet at times we are wracked by doubt; and no insistence on the part of preachers that Doubt is a part of Faith quells the underlying unease of uncertainty. Perhaps in order to deal with my own doubts, I try to think about faith as “creative insecurity.”
A Talmudic interpretation of the Red Sea crossing tells how the waters did not part and allow Moses to pass simply because God looked down from heaven and saw that unless God opened the waters, the Israelites would all be drowned. This interpretation suggests that the reason the sea opened was in response to Moses putting his toe into the water, risking that the sea would drown him, but being determined and filled with that much faith. The story ends, as does each Talmudic interpretation, with a moral: “Do not just stand there on dry land waiting for miracles!”
Christianity is not a salvation, but a call to adventurous living. Eternal life is not the perpetuity of the status quo— it is becoming alive at such depths that nothing can ever kill you. It is life to participate in the Eternal Spirit: It is not found in playing it safe, but in risking all. The way of faith—of creative insecurity—is the way of growth, of maturing, of becoming.
The church as a community of faith is to create faith, provoke faith, nurture faith—as well as to consider doubt! But what the church resists more than anything else—because this is what we resist as persons—is to live by faith in the living God. Faith is not something to rest on, to take one’s ease on, but it beckons one to the growing edges of the self, to the frontiers of life, to creative insecurity. It isn’t safe to believe in the God of the Bible. In fact, it isn’t safe to live. Security is little more than sterility. Only insecurity is ever creative.
For us, living lives of faith, committing ourselves to lives of creative insecurity means acting on the conviction that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus, the Christ. It means “hanging in there” with our faith, our creative insecurity, even when times are rough, doubts are prevalent, and spirits are low. It means loving people and using things—not the other way around. It means treating life—every aspect of it—as a gift and living it in the adventurous Spirit of the Giver. It means having the spirit of giving in all we do: our relationships, our decisions, our attitudes, the use of our time, our energies, our talents, our money, and our possessions. It means being keenly aware of and concerned for the hurts and hungers and thirsts and imprisonments and nakedness of the world around us—physical and spiritual—and being determined to respond to them. It means taking seriously Jesus’ command to reach out to others—physically and spiritually—with the love and care of Christ. Living a life of faith, committing ourselves to lives of creative insecurity, means that we must risk ourselves in the cause of justice: for that is where Christ is.