Your Faith, in One Word

A couple of months ago, I wrote a post called The Twitter Gospel. I asked people, if they had to share the Gospel in 140 characters or less, what they would say. I loved reading the unique, thoughtful, concise, yet powerful responses roll in.

More recently, my husband and I have begun discussing what it would look like if you had to describe your faith in one word. That’s it. No flourishes. No explanation. Just one word.

And then last week, a video called Why I Hate Religion, but Love Jesus, began to make its way around the Internet, primarily bombarding Facebook and YouTube (Here it is, in case you are one of the 11 million who hasn’t seen it).

The hubster and I took the bait, like so many others, and pressed play on said video. I grumbled a few times. “That’s so not true,” I exclaimed. “I totally disagree.” But, by the end of the video, I shrugged my shoulders and thought, yeah, I get the point he’s trying to make, even if I don’t agree with each and every word.

Then I watched and read, as some bloggers, Facebook friends, and others either passionately agreed or vehemently disagreed with the message of the video. Some thought it was pitch perfect, a well-done representation of the Gospel. Others, thought the films creator Jefferson Bethke, was a little too careless and flippant with his words, substituting soundbites for Truth.

Yet, after considering both sides of the argument regarding this video phenom, I realized that it all comes back to one word. If I had to describe my faith in one simple word, what would it be? If I wasn’t able to present a polished and produced video or a lengthy, articulate speech regarding my faith, what would I really say?

If I could utter but one word to describe my Christian life, walk, faith…what would escape my lips?

Because at the end of the day, it isn’t about religion, or orthodoxy, my theology vs the guy’s down the street. It isn’t about dogma, or traditions, rituals, or denominations. It is about one very simple, yet simultaneously incomprehensible, vast, and complex person: Jesus.

So, if I were left with nothing left to say, but one word…it would be His.

Now for the obvious question. What ONE word would you use to describe your faith? It could be Jesus, or it could be something else….grace, hope, joy, peace, redemption. You name it.

33 thoughts on “Your Faith, in One Word”

  1. Mine would be Resurrection, I think. I might have to flip a coin between that and Hope.

    This is a great, fun and fruitful exercise, Nicole! Can’t wait to see what everyone else has to say!

    1. Jr., man, my second choice would be Resurrection. I almost chose that word, as I was writing. It encapsulates my own life, risen from the ashes so to speak. It, is also of course, where we can place our hope–knowing He has risen, without which, as Paul reminds us, we would be most pitied among men.

      Thanks for sharing!

    1. Wanted! I like it. I had the image of a wanted poster come into my mind, but instead of “Wanted, Dead or Alive,” it’d say “Wanted, Dead then Alive.”

      So good. Thanks for sharing Ken.

  2. Free or freedom. That’s what the gospel has done for me. My chains are broken. What an insightful post. You rock, Nicole. And I love that you call your husband, the hubster. That’s what I refer to my husband as!

    1. Malisa, great word! My one and only tattoo represents freedom in Christ. Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom, Christ has set us free,” is one of my favorite verses too.

      Hubster too? That’s awesome. I thought I was the only one. Thanks for sharing your word Malisa.

  3. I have mixed feelings about this video. On one hand, let’s face it, this guy isn’t exactly Allen Ginsberg. And, as several of my friends pointed out, religion does not automatically mean church politics and hypocrisy. Religion, in and of itself, basically means worshiping a Higher Power, and Jesus’ first commandment was to love God.

    And yet . . .

    And yet in my mind, I have a really hard time differentiating between religion in-and-of itself and church politics. I feel like my spirituality is so wrapped up in dogma, doctrines, and theology that God often feels like a complex math problem. I want to yell and scream and demand that God holds me like a little child like He used to. You know what I mean?

    1. Travis, I do know what you mean. I do think too that we tend to make God trickier than He is. He is, of course complex, multifaceted, etc, but we make Him difficult.

      All that to say, I do think religion can have its place. I know people whose faith has thrived in what others would consider conservative orthodoxy, rituals, and tradition. There is, in many ways, something holy about such practices. For this, and other reasons, I disagreed with the video.

      Okay Travis, I’m gonna call you out though and ask you to choose one word to sum up your faith. What would it be?

      Sometimes it is helpful to focus in on one aspect of Him. It burns away so much of the math problem we place upon Him that isn’t necessary. One word. What’s yours?

      1. Just one word, eh? Okay, let me think about it for a minute . . .


        I was going to use Ed’s word below, “journey,” but I didn’t want to sound like a parrott.

  4. At this point I would have to say “journey”.

    In the last week I’ve been pondering the fact that the early Christians didn’t refer to their shared experience as “Christianity” but rather as “the way”. In modern evangelical times we have interpreted the statement that “Jesus is the way” as meaning that Jesus somehow carries us piggy-back into heaven, if we simply pray one prayer and believe, and that Jesus being “the way” is a sort of conveyor belt experience. As long as you’re on the belt, you’ll get there. In contrast to that concept, I began to wonder if the concept of Jesus being the way really meant nothing like that, but rather that his life and death exemplified a path – a journey – that each of us must follow. In this interpretation Jesus is the way because he is a roadmap, not a conveyor belt. I think this more closely complies with his statement to “take up your cross daily and follow me”. So, I am on a spiritual journey. I try to make Jesus’ footsteps my spiritual GPS.

  5. Great topic! I think right now I would have to go with Hope. Hope for the past in that Christ has already been there and made it possible for me to be forgiven for my past sins. Hope for the present that whatever life is like now, Jesus is here with me now. Hope for the future with the wonder of Heaven that awaits with the Lord.

  6. If I had to pick just one word, I would probably go with “grace”. Yup, one of the cliche, overused Christianese terms that I once despise because I never quite understood it.They all talk about “grace” like it’s some magical fairy flittering around.

    I was never “taught” the meaning of grace – I was given grace to understand grace. My walk with Christ has been nothing short of being on the receiving end of inexplicable grace.

    (Have I said ‘grace’ enough yet?)

    Great post, Nicole. I was a bit back-and-forth on this video myself but it’s good to go beyond the noise and reflect on what my faith really means to me.

  7. Love this post! That’s a really hard question to answer. I think if I were to describe my faith in one word, it probably wouldn’t really be a word, maybe more like a heavy sigh–like the kind that you make after finding out something you really needed done was already finished or the kind you make when realize that things are going to work out afterall. If I had to pick a real word, I think I would also pick Jesus because he sums up just about everything, or maybe Reclaimed.

  8. If I had to use one word, it would be struggle. Being honest, most of my Christian life has sucked. I’ve had more struggle in my life, more difficulty, more pain and more trials since becoming a Christian than before I accepted Christ.

    1. Jason, this breaks my heart. Why do you feel that your life has had more difficulty since knowing Christ? I can relate in many ways. For the first few years of my time as a believer, I spent many days feeling like being a Christian was an impossible task. I felt doomed to fail.

      I have no doubt though, as cliche as this might sound, that God has a specific purpose for you–meaning a specific purpose for your pain and suffering. Christ suffered and while this is not comforting, it is comforting to know that we serve a King who knows what it is to suffer loss and heartache. We can beseech Him, as such. He knows exactly how you feel.

      “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrew 4:15-16

      Lord, please fill Jason with your Spirit to allow him to live a life that is abundant and triumphant in Christ. May the pain and loss he has experienced draw him closer to You, but also draw others to you as they witness his faith and trust in the Almighty. Give him your peace that transcends understanding, empower him to do Your will, and encourage his spirit, I ask in Jesus name.

      love to you Jason. I will continue praying friend.

  9. Awesome post Nicole! I just watched this video with my wife today and after watching it the first time, we both liked it. But then I read your post as well as Elizabeth Esther’s post about it, and I saw the parts that you pointed out that were erroneous. And I was like, “Oh yeah, Nicole has a good point there!”

    Its totally awesome that the video got more than 12 million views! Its not awesome that this gentleman made some false accusations :-(

  10. Love. Not because I am particularly good at it, but because i have learned over the past few years that this the highest calling of the Christian. Without love, nothing else has meaning or makes any sense. Love must animate every action and every moment of the Christian. Love is what drove the life and ministry of Christ. Love is what drives God to restore the relationship with humanity. In a recent interview, Tom Shadyac said it best; “Love your enemy! Love the person who is putting the nail in your hands and your feet, and pushing the spear into your side!” While most of us don’t have such an overt enemy, we have created more subtle versions. Of particular difficulty for a lot of Christians are people groups that are different from us; gays and lesbians, Muslims, and different Christian traditions. Love.

    1. Rudy, well said and sadly, so often forgotten or not lived out by many Christians. Christ’s love is radical, trans-formative, transcendent, and immeasurable. It is the crux of our faith.

  11. Mine would have to be Personal.

    My walk with faith, with God, with Jesus…it’s something that is personal to me. I don’t expect everyone to see God the way that I do. I don’t even know how to explain my own relationship with the Divine. All I know, is that He guides me along my own path, shows me how to be a good person, and lets me see the good in others. It’s a personal path, one that I am more than happy to walk.

  12. One word to describe my faith?


    My faith has never been “blind.” It makes perfect sense. It has been well thought-out and is logical and reasonable. It has taken into consideration the entire history of the universe and of mankind, and has found that God and His Word are true. My heart can fully rejoice without cognitive dissonance interfering.

    No one has to leave his mind behind in order to follow Christ. As a matter of fact, your careful thought is essential to coming to Him. The Gospel Jesus preached began with the word “repent” which literally means “think again.” Turn on your thinker, and you will ultimately find Jesus Christ at the reasonable conclusion of your unbiased consideration.

  13. Peace!

    All my fear has been (is being) taken away, I have less and less to worry about everyday, I know that the future will be a-okay. I’ve got the peace of God!

  14. if i had to choose one word, it would be “Restoration”. Restoration is God’s beautiful plan and will for His people, and for creation. It perfectly describes the gospel, all made possible through Jesus. :)

    thanks for asking- i love your website! keep up the great words:)

  15. I’ve just found your blog and am reading some of your previous posts and putting some of my 2 cents worth in!

    I’ve thought about this answer a lot and while I would love to use one word, (grace, freedom, love, acceptance all crossed my mind.) I have to use 2 words. I have to use 2 words because my faith is as much about those things as it is about what it isn’t. I grew up being judged, demeaned, beaten down, and treated as less than a person so that others could feel better about themselves. And it became who I was. And then I read Romans 8:1 and my life changed. “There is NO CONDEMNATION in Christ Jesus.” And those are my 2 words. No Condemnation. I can’t describe how those 2 words turned my life and my walk with Christ around. So, I can’t use one word because the freedom that Christ provides I found in 2!

  16. Simple.

    I am not sure if this is the first word that comes to mind but it is true. Faith to me is simple. You don’t need a lot of rituals or fancy clothes. All you need is yourself and God. After all faith is just a relationship with God. Nothing confusing or extravagant. Just very simple.

  17. i like this, but i wonder if we can really understand who Jesus is without religion, or at least, some kind of religious framework or worldview within which to see who he was and what he did. I worry that without, maybe not religion, but at least the story that religion tells, the only Jesus many of us come to know is some kind of fuzzy imaginary friend who makes us feel good.

  18. I think my one word would be… worthy. I am worthy of God’s love, being loved, and chasing my dreams.

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