Steps to becoming a swimmer: # 1, believe you can swim. That sentence was on the dressing room wall of the pool where I taught. It was a helpful reminder. We worked hard to help our young charges trust the water and themselves.
Jesus told the woman who had washed his feet and dried them with her hair that her sins were forgiven. He didn’t say that her sorrow for past sins or her willingness to do public penance or even her kindness to him had saved her. What saved her was her faith. But faith in what?
He wasn’t concerned with whether she believed in his divinity, at least in the terms that we’re used to. That understanding didn’t exist yet. He wasn’t referring to creeds or doctrines. There were none. What had saved her was her faith in him, in his message, in the revelation that was his whole life.
Imagine for a moment an inventor or entrepreneur who had spent her whole life working on a particular project. A person decides, at significant risk, to make a significant investment in her work and gives her a large check. That’s the type of faith act that Jesus was interested in. He was looking for people to invest themselves in the passion that guided his life: the fulfillment of God’s promise to the world.
The crucial act of faith is the one that says I believe that the Creator is committed to the fulfillment of all people. I dedicate my entire life to that project as well. When we’ve said that, we’ve said everything. We’ve committed ourselves to life. We’ve made ourselves one with life’s Creator. We’ve accepted whatever danger that commitment might entail. We are saved.