Monday, January 7, 2019

Gotta Have Faith – But in What?

“You’ve got to have faith.” How many times have we heard someone say that? We’ve probably all said it ourselves at least once or twice. At times, when circumstances seem most bleak, we need faith to believe the light at the end of the tunnel is really there. Tears ago, singer George Michael even had a hit tune called, “You Gotta Have Faith.” Although its lyrics had nothing to do with real faith – at least not in the sense the word is commonly used.

We exist in a material world, but deep down the vast majority of us have a sense there’s a part of life that transcends what we can see, hear, touch and smell. Particularly in difficult times. That’s where faith rolls into the equation. As Hebrews 11:1 declares, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

So the consensus is that we need faith of some sort. The question is, faith in what? For instance, applying the verse above, imagine an attorney walking into a courtroom, striding toward the bench and telling the judge, “I’ve got evidence, your honor, but you can’t see it. And you can’t hold it, because it’s based on hope.” What kind of response do you think the lawyer would receive?

When we say, “You’ve got to have faith,” what kind of faith do we mean? I’ve seen obituaries that said Mrs. So-and-So was “of the Methodist faith” or “the Baptist faith.” Does that mean her faith was based on being affiliated with a certain denomination? Personally, I’ve connected with a variety of denominations over my lifetime, but none of them had the power to save me or resolve my problems.

We might have faith in a certain person, or group. But experience has taught us – or should have – that people will sometimes fail us, even those we trust the most. No political party, no church, no charitable organization, or even any branch of the military can reward our faith with 100 percent consistency.

Maybe we should just faith – in faith? You know, the “everything happens for a reason” variety, even though that still doesn’t answer why things should all happen for a reason – or who makes sure that’s the case. Ultimately, even though we might agree we need to have faith, who or what should serve as the object of our faith?

If we believe the Scriptures, there’s only one unfailing focus for our faith: God. We see Him in three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The human mind is incapable of comprehending that completely, but that’s part of what faith is all about. 

Many passages in the Bible discuss faith, what it is and what it means for us. But perhaps none is more explicit and concise than Hebrews 12:2, which states, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” 

Jesus Christ is to be the focus of our faith, because our hope, trust and relationship with God all are based solely on Him and what He has done for us.

The previous chapter of Hebrews, often called “the hall of faith,” cites numerous examples of our spiritual ancestors who lived according to faith, without the revelation we now have in the Scriptures. Starting with Abel, continuing through people like Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab (a prostitute!), and the prophets, it states, “These all were commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:39-40).

So it’s true, we’ve got to have faith. But it’s important to know for sure what that faith is in – or Who it’s in. According to the Scriptures, it’s not multiple choice. And as was the case with the biblical patriarchs and prophets, the culmination of our faith may be a while in coming. 

That’s why we’re told, “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” (Hebrews 11:6). Following Christ is indeed a walk of faith – but it’s a faith that assures us, it’s well worth the wait.

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