See posts below for background... (read the full sermon here)
Monologue vs. Dialogue - Bad faith has everything figured out and wants to tell you all about it. But don't try to talk back because they don't want to hear it. Bad faith only has one-way conversations whereas good faith is open to dialogue. I have a friend who has engaged me in dialogue about the possibility of gay marriages. He is working through his theology and thinking and turned to me for my input since he knows that I don't agree with gay marriage. I'm happy to correspond about this because it's an important issue. I could tell him to not waste his time, it's wrong and why bother. But I told him just the opposite. I told him that even though I don't agree, someone has to be asking these questions - turning over every rock, so to speak, to make sure that we haven't missed anything in our certainty. Love and grace demands it, don't you think?
Selfishness vs. Sacrifice - Bad faith is in it just for what they can get out of it. The corrupt TV evangelist wants your money and a diamond ring, we want to be saved from hell and happy. But good faith moves beyond self-interest and seeks the benefit of God and others. How do we benefit God? I suppose we can't, but thanking, praising and obeying him are means to honor him with our lives. We recognize him in these ways just like we would any other person. In addition to God, good faith seeks to be people through our personal sacrifice - the giving of our time, our talent and our finances.
Mutual respect, Free Choice, Responsibility, Relationship, Dialogue and Sacrifice are all markers of good faith. When we see these things eminately from a person we are attracted to faith. It lifts our spirit and draws us to God. But when we see the opposite, it drops a wall in our heart and turns us inward. We go into a defensive posture and insist that we will never become a person of faith if faith means to be these things.
If you are seeking to find faith, I hope that you won't be scared away by bad faith. And in your pursuit of faith, I hope that you will cling to only that which is good and reject all that's bad.