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Friday, February 18, 2011

Faith - what is it?

1-2The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.
(Hebrews 11:1-2)

Lots of people have sought to define faith.  The philosophers, theologians, and word-smiths will define faith as the confidence someone puts in another or any thing.  In the King James version of the Bible, the above passage begins with the words:  "Now, faith is..."  Therefore, I am inclined to take this as my definition of faith.  In Bible College, I was given the assignment of writing a paper on "What is faith?"  That was a struggle for me because I kept trying to find some really deep, philosophical meaning to faith.  When it came down to it, I did not get a good grade on the paper because the Dean said I did not "know" the subject - my head knowledge had not made the connection into heart knowledge.

Today, after many years of serving Christ, when I think of faith, an acrostic comes to mind:
  • F inally
  • A ligned
  • I n
  • T rusting
  • H im
Simply put, faith is coming to the place that you look no other place than to him and him alone!  Whatever the need, he is the first place you turn.  His is the first answer you respond to when you are seeking advice.  Nothing excites you more than the possibility of discovering his will in your circumstance.  That's faith.  As our writer says, "Its the handle on what we cannot see".  

We often try to make the simplest things so complicated in this walk.  We somehow equate simplicity with a lack of wisdom, a lack of knowledge, or a lack of growth.  In fact, this is just the opposite of how Jesus described his disciples.  One day, he drew a child into is lap and began to explain that the things of his kingdom were best understood through the eyes of a child.  Why?  Simply because they don't attach a bunch of strings to what they see and interpret like we adults do. They trust simply because someone they accept as an authority in their lives tells them something. 

Jesus' hope in using that illustration was that his disciples would come to a place of simply trusting him - by being fully aligned with him, they'd come to know whatever they needed to know to live life to its fullest and in the safety and power of service to the King of Kings.  We look for all kinds of other things to be our source of "trust" - material things, our educational attainments, the measure of success we find in advancing our career, etc.  Nothing quite brings us to the place where we fully "get the handle on what we cannot see".  The material things will fail us - often when we least expect them to.  The education we receive today is outdated by tomorrow.  The advances in career simply are never a guarantee of success in the future.  Nothing is as plain as trust in Christ.

Faith - the firm foundation that makes life worth living - aligning ourselves in trusting him.  That's my definition today - a far cry from the philosophical and intellectual "mature" definition I attempted to give all those years ago in my thesis.  Faith is something we experience - not something we fully understand.  Faith is something we "know" in the fibers of our being - because we know where we have aligned our allegiances.  Faith is really a person - Jesus.  He is the means of our hope, the revelation of that hope, and the fulfillment of that hope.  Plain and simple.