Life is impossible without faith. We cannot survive without it. We must have faith in ourselves, faith in the people with whom we live and work and especially faith in God. That’s why every Sunday, our congregation recites together the Apostles’ Creed, that ancient statement called the Affirmation of Faith. The creed is a summary of basic Christian beliefs. Composed in the year 325 A.D., the traditional version contains little more than 100 words. Many Christians can recite it from memory.

The creed begins with these words: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord.” Christians cannot prove that God exists. By faith they “believe” that he does. So the reciting of the creed is a way for believers to say: This is what we believe. We have faith in God, and this faith is grounded in the teaching of the Bible.

The Bible says plainly that faith in God is necessary. The writer of Hebrews says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (11:6).

God has given all people the freedom to ignore him and to even believe that he is a figment of the imagination, a myth created by the world’s religions. That freedom also permits us to have faith in God, and faith in God makes a remarkable difference in the way we live.

That difference can be illustrated by the life of the brilliant composer Franz Schubert, whose music has been loved by millions for several centuries. Not long before his death at age 31, Schubert wrote this to a friend: “I feel myself to be the most unhappy, unfortunate creature in the world. Every night, when I go to sleep, I hope I will not wake again, and every morning reminds me only of yesterday’s unhappiness.”

That sad comment motivated me to learn more about Schubert’s life. In reading the biography of his life, I found no mention of God. Though he was a musical genius, composing during his brief life hundreds of marvelous pieces of music, he evidently lived a “godless” life. The only reference to religion was the casual observation that Schubert was an agnostic.

Why did Schubert die so young? His death was caused by syphilis, which he contracted through “his association with prostitutes.” Schubert worked in the church, sang in the choir, played musical instruments in worship and even received the Holy Sacrament on his death bed. Hopefully, before his death, he found peace with God through faith in Christ, but I found no evidence that he did so.

The biblical story of Joseph illustrates the difference that faith in God makes. While a young man, Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers who hated him. But the Bible says Joseph survived because “The Lord was with him and gave him success in everything he did.”

Joseph had faith in God. Long before the Apostles’ Creed was written, Joseph believed in God the Father Almighty. His faith was never more beautifully displayed than in that dramatic moment when he forgave his brothers for selling him into slavery and said to them, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” Faith in God enables us to forgive the people who hurt us.

Does faith in God make a difference? Oh yes, a profound difference. Faith truly matters. And faith comes alive when I choose to say with all my heart, “I believe!”