Sunday, July 14, 2013
What Is Faith
Heb. 11:1 ¶ Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Here begins the great faith chapter in the Scripture. Two key words are found here "assurance" and "conviction." The word translated assurance is the Greek word "substance" which really leads us to an understanding of something that is foundational and upon which everything else can be built. Faith is the foundational substance of our lives and it leads to the conviction, the "demonstration" or the "evidence" of things which cannot be seen. Then the chapter takes us into a progression of faith, that of the journey of humanity from creation until the very day and time of the author, and the revelation of God through the faith of all of those participating in the journey. Finally the chapter concludes and the next begins with a continuing invitation to the readers to also enter the race, pick up the baton, and continue the faith journey as those who have gone before cheer us on to completion.
In our rationalistic world we want to be able to prove the things of God, and yet the "proof" is in the evidence of the lives lived in faith. The chapter begins by the very creation of this earth -- believing that it is God who can create out of nothing. Part of living for God is believing in things that we may not be able to completely and totally explain. Unfortunately I think that there are times when even Christians get caught in the trap of trying to explain in very modern and rationalistic ways the things of God. That is not the intent of faith. Why do we have to be concerned with exactly how God created this earth? Is that intrinsic to our faith? The Scripture tells us:
Heb. 11:3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.
The very issue of having to try and "prove" how God did this seems almost contrary to what this opening verse, the greatest definition of faith, seems to be saying to us. Our faith in God should not be based on things that we can prove or disprove through human science. Our faith in God is proved through our relationship with God -- a relationship based on things not seen. Faith in God is what continuously pulls us into God's future, one which he has already prepared for us and into which he is drawing all of humanity. And God's future is being continually revealed to us by those who have gone before us "by faith." This is the proof of faith -- that those who have gone before had faith in the things which were not seen. They had faith to understand that they were not citizens of earthly kingdoms but they were looking ahead to the heavenly realms. And they continued to press on and their lives have become the "conviction" or the "evidence" of the things that we cannot see.
We are invited to join our personal faith to the greater community of Faith as we unite with those who have gone before us. In doing so we enter into the history of faith. We must let go of the human desire to touch, feel, see, know and explain all of the things of God and instead be willing to embrace the mystery of a loving God who has invited us through faith into an eternal relationship with him in his kingdom. This is faith.
Lord, please help me life a life of faith today. Amen.