Friday, November 8, 2013

Faith in the Unbelievable

I was thinking about hope and faith the other day, and wondering what the difference was.  Aren't they both about living without seeing?  I've always thought of hope being the expectation of something that can't be seen yet.   And I've thought that faith means believing in something that can't be known.  Which, pretty much is the same thing.  But then I read through Hebrews 11-12:3.  It's quite long, so I won't copy the whole thing down.  Here is a snippet, though:

1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

32 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, ofDavid and Samuel and the prophets— 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. 36 Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two,[a] they were killed with the sword.They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— 38 of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39 And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

This is the great "Hall of Fame of Faith," the verses commemorating the men and women who gave everything for Jesus.  And that's when it hit me.  Hope is longing for things unseen, but faith is acting on that hope.  God never called us to believe that He exists.  He called us to act radically changed because He exists!  These great Biblical figures spoken about in Hebrews 11 would never have been mentioned if they simply hoped, intellectually, that God was real and that He had a purpose for their lives.  They are cited as examples of people believing in the Unbelievable and DOING something about it.  Because faith is an action.  And love is a verb.  If we truly have our hope in the right place -- in our everlasting, beautiful Father -- then we can have the faith to live radically different lives.  Not just being blind and accepting it, but being blind and walking forward into the darkness.

That's my inspiration for this week.  I keep going over and over this whole chapter, marveling over the faith, the strength and courage, of these men and women.  And I'm challenged to go join them, in an ever-growing cloud of witnesses.

1 comment:

  1. Yes! And that word "assurance" in verse (1) defines hope as certainty in that which simply hasn't yet come to pass. Before I was in Christ, hope meant wishful thinking. It didn't carry with it anything beyond I really, really, really hope this is what will happen. But now I know that hope is reality. That all that God has promised will come to pass. And if not in my days here on earth, there's the certainty that in our forever life with Him all promises will be fulfilled. Oh, how great and wonderful and faithful is our God, Rachel!