Has it ever occurred to you that the problem with faith, is, well faith?
This week we’re taking our Midweek Q & A series in a new direction as we look to make it more devotional in nature rather than addressing a specific question. The not so new, new, series will be Heroes, a deep dive into the Heroes of Faith from Hebrews 11.
So, what about faith? Is the problem with faith REALLY faith? Well, no. Not really. But you could understand why someone might say that based on what we read in Hebrews 11. There the author of the letter to the Hebrews gives this definition of faith: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
How can anyone possibly be confident in something that has no empirical evidence, no data, no basis in fact? According to the Bible, that’s a really good, really fair question. See, the problem with faith isn’t faith. The problem with faith is us. It’s us because more often than not we turn faith into something it is not nor was it ever meant to be.
Because every person on earth has inherited a distrusting disposition which has been further honed by the experience of living in a world where lies, misgivings, misinformation, and deceit rule the day, our tendency is to approach Biblical faith from an entirely misinformed position from the start. We assume that the Bible is not factual and authoritative because we’ve seldom if ever experienced anything else that way. And then we presume that our opinions, our own emotions, our own wants carry equal footing to that of God’s.
Notice the problems. None of that fits the definition of faith which at its essence is simply trust but that trust takes both knowledge of the facts and agreement with the facts as granted. In other words I can’t trust something I know nothing about; nor can I trust someone or something with which I disagree.
Faith, real faith, biblical or otherwise, can only ever be as good as the object in which it is placed. The child whose parent has always caught him when instructed “Jump!” from the jungle gym will have no problem jumping because the object of his trust, his faith—in this case mom or dad—has always been reliable. But the child of a parent whose better known as “Butterfingers”? Good luck. It’s the same reason you never think twice—nor does the store think twice—about letting you walk out with a cartful of groceries in exchange for green pieces of paper with all the right markings. Why does that work? Because the object of the trust, in this case the entire economy of our country, has always been responsible for that working. Soviet Russia, however?
Is it any surprise then that people are suspicious of faith if all faith ever amounts to is a religious-y version of superstition? Is it any surprise people are suspicious of faith if all they ever see the faithful doing is living lives in nearly wholesale disagreement with the principles and words they claim to trust?
But that’s not Biblical faith. Biblical faith is built on the never-changing, always reliable, always truthful word of God, and Christ as the culmination of that Word. Jesus is the entire reason to trust, he’s the lynchpin to it all. By his perfect trust in God he lives a life perfectly pleasing to God in our place, by his death he pays for all our ugly distrust of God, and by his resurrection he proves every last word as reliable and true. Without him, God’s Word is no more trustworthy, no more reliable than any other. But with him, with Jesus as center and Savior, it changes everything. Because our loving God made good on His promise to rescue and redeem us, biblical faith starts with the assumption that God is right and everything else can be wrong and therefore presumes that everything can be observed must agree with his word. This is what the Heroes did—even when life begged them do otherwise. And so our journey with the Heroes begins.