Letters to Jesus (Recognizing What's Important)-13
Thomas Merton quotes Karl Barth as saying, “...only faith should be taken seriously.” Merton calls it, “a great institution of Protestantism,” and he goes on to say, “Our good works are necessary but they are not to be taken seriously. In the sense of trusting completely in our own rightness, to take our good works seriously is to be a Pharisee.”
It’s not what we do for God, it’s what God does for us that is the pervading reality. Accepting this is turning faith into a good work and being “justified” by that. The act of faith covers belief in that unknowable entity that constantly touches our lives. That which beckons us beckons first our belief. The “good work” of belief opens up, correspondingly, all kinds of other good works that follow quite naturally from faith. Good works without faith are hollow and not to be taken seriously. But the good work of believing, of seeking firmer and better belief, should be taken most seriously. This is what Barth meant. Faith is what generates true good works.
My faith in You is the good work of belief; and my belief moves me to do as You taught. What I do, therefore, affirms my belief; and my belief has no life without being animated by the good works it inspires – not vice versa, for that is belief in self and belief in self tends, in many ways, to displace belief in You.