I have not exactly answered this question, have I? It is a direct question. And it presupposes that I have seen something. I don't know whether to write or to be silent. My banner on this blog has not changed since I started it. "A personal take..." But how personal have I been? Have I not hidden behind story and study?
What really is my personal take? Well, I can answer this question. There is a gift, freely given. Grace carries the connotation of freely given, and therefore from the receiver's point of view, unexpected, because it is never a response to something as if it were deserved. It is, as the theologians call it, prevenient. It goes before. And to be received, it needs to be accepted.
This is faith.
My children have sometimes failed to turn up to receive a present or have sometimes delayed unwrapping. What impact does this have for the giver? I had not thought of it quite like this. But I remember the disappointment in the refusal of the gift. I remember the child ending up without the benefit of the gift through not being able to accept it. These long and difficult stories are not mine but theirs. And they are as resolved as possible under the circumstances, but painful even to remember.
What is it - this 'faith' that in unwrapping the gift, accepts it? What is this 'believing'? It is not a set of propositions that demonstrate understanding. Who of us understands anything? I am saturated with Hebrew grammar - there is no salvation there. My own memory stick may have reached its limitations - disk is full! This too is not salvation. I rant about salvation being thought of as a concept. No. Salvation is not a concept - it is hearing with faith. It is the engagement with another person, an other person, an Other person. Are we not all other to each?
How can we insist on one way of faith when we have scarcely started on the path we scarcely know? Lest it be thought, however, that there is no substance, there is a gift - a real gift. It is given to and in our mortal bodies by the Spirit through the death of Jesus. It is like the oil that flows down the beard to the collar of the clothing. It is an anointing. It is in Christ. It is unspeakable. It is good. It is personal. It is gift. It is not to be abused. Reproof, equally a gift, follows. The relationship is unbreakable. It is covenant established by a reliable partner.