Faith of a mustard seed

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

In revisiting ‘The New Being’, Tillich takes the text of Romans 8:38-39 where Paul writes what Tillich says are “among the most powerful ever written”—“For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creations, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Based on this scripture, Tillich uses the subject— ‘Principalities and Powers’

This message centers on the powers named in this text which all men of all the world’s histories have been in bondage to. Each one of us held sway by these insoluble conflicting forces. No security is guaranteed to anyone. Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness— those powers with evil names. But then, the discussion turns to powers that have ‘glorious names’— ‘angels’, ‘principalities’, ‘life’, ‘height’. Tillich suggests that these are the most threatening to life because they have a ‘double face’. “They grasp us by the good they bring and they destroy us by the evil they contain.” As one example, he names “one of these powers with an angelic face is love.”

This thing of ‘insoluble conflicting forces’— impossible to solve; unanswerable; unfathomable ‘conflicting forces’. Incapable of being dissolved; like Oil is to Water. Incomprehensible; inexplicable. Without hope of solution. Baffling; unaccountable; indecipherable ‘conflicting forces’.

This week, the final week of 2016, former candidate for the office of President of the United States, Senator John McCain weighed in on the President Elect’s position on Torture. Addressing an audience he prefaced his statements saying, “I don’t give a damn what the President of the United States wants to do…”. What previously was ‘by thought’ is now going into the New Year
by Spoken Word and… Deed’.

Each one of us held sway by these insoluble conflicting forces. No security is guaranteed to anyone. these are the most threatening to life because they have a ‘double face’. “They grasp us by the good they bring and they destroy us by the evil they contain.”

The faith statement Tillich makes in this message is this, “Faith in Providence is faith altogether. It is the courage to say yes to one’s own life and life in general, in spite of the driving forces of fate, in spite of the insecurities of daily existence, in spite of the catastrophes of existence and the breakdown of meaning.”

His ‘Kingdom point’ is a discussion on the ‘nor anything else in all creation…’. That all these powers, all these principalities are ‘creations’ which, just as you and I are creations— are subject to the will of The Creator! Divine Providence!

I too, think that this Romans text is Paul greatest work— to remind us that all these things separate us from the love of God. Yet, not without the power to ‘conquer through Christ Jesus, Our Lord’. Gladys Knight sang it first, “I’ve had my share of life’s ups and downs”, but James Cleveland and Charles Fold raised it to Kingdom level in identifying ‘The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me’ as Jesus.

by email: mustardseedfaith@outlook.com