By Faith…(Hebrews Chapter 11)
To learn more about faith, let’s take a stroll together through the 11th chapter of the Biblical book of Hebrews, shall we? 🙂
(please click HERE for the entire chapter)
Verse 1a: “Faith is confidence [being sure] of what we hope for…”
The first half of the first verse gives us two of the main ingredients of faith: confidence (displayed/lived out in the present) and hope (aiming for/looking ahead to something specific in the future). But before we can have confidence in something, we need to have the hope (i.e. the idea/concept) of that something.
For example, before I can be confident that my team will win the championship, I need to have hope that there even is a championship to be won. Then, once I catch the first glimpse of the reality of this “championship,” my desire to have it begins to grow and that desire drives me to search for the Coach (Christ) Who invites me to have a role on His team. Once I accept the Coach’s free invitation for a roster spot, I am then able to learn how to play the game in unison with my teammates in such a way that other people are inspired to also accept the Coach’s unearnable roster spot for themselves.
Thus, the first half of verse one teaches us that our hope (desire) for living forever with Jesus in heaven must necessarily come before our confidence in that desire being realized. Hope for Christ–Who He is and what He offers us–is conceived and grows into a strong confidence (faith) over time, but it starts out wimpy/weak, timid/trembling.
Why is this important?
Well, if saving faith in Jesus starts out as a simple/small hope, a brief/blurry glimpse of Him on the horizon of our lives, an attraction to what He offers us even if we don’t understand it much at all, then we can be encouraged that we can come to the Savior broken and bruised, lost and lethargic, uncertain and unsure, weak and wobbly–that is, just as we are! We learn here in verse one that faith in Christ isn’t born “as an adult,” but starts out like we all do–fighting for life, grasping for help, hungry for nourishment, kicking and screaming, a mere shadow of its glorious potential. We don’t have to “have it all together” when we say “yes” to Jesus; we can come to Him as we are and He will gather us into His loving embrace, forgiving us of our past and growing us for a glorious future of becoming who He made us to be.
Like a spiritual mitosis, though our initial faith in Jesus is small it grows stronger over time (e.g. dividing and multiplying) as we:
1. Read Scripture regularly;
2. Attend community worship services consistently;
3. Pray genuinely;
4. Discuss the Bible with others instructively;
5. Put the Scripture we learn into practice intentionally.
Thus our faith in Jesus starts out as a thin sapling but over time the Holy Spirit matures us into a mighty oak of God with deep/wide roots in the soil of His Word, on the Rock of His Son, under the refreshing dew of His Spirit, and within the compassionate care of the Father Himself, the expert Gardener.
If you can’t fly to Jesus, run to Him; if you can’t run, walk toward Him; if you can’t walk, crawl to Him, if you can’t crawl, cry out to Him; if you can’t cry out, lift your gaze to Him; if you can’t even raise your head, wave the white flag of surrender in your heart and behold the Savior as He takes your tiny speck of hope for/faith in Him and begins to transform it into a faith that is confidently certain/sure.
Verse 1b: “[Faith is] assurance [being certain] about what we do not see.”
The second half of verse one shows us another important ingredient of faith in Jesus–treating that which is unseen as if it is seen, stepping off the solid ground into a thick mist onto a bridge that you cannot quite see but that God promises is there!
Jesus commands us to love God with, among other things, our minds (Luke 10:27), and so reason/logic are two tools we can/should use to help us arrive at the base of the bridge of faith in Christ. But at some point we will have put those tools back into our belts and lean on the dependable walking stick of faith–we will need to choose to begin
-walking with Jesus without all of our questions being answered,
-following Jesus without all of our fears being soothed,
-obeying Jesus without all of our uncertainties being clarified.
We will eventually need to step out on faith and commit our eternal and earthly lives into the strong and sure nail-scarred hands of Jesus, one foggy step at a time. Thus our ever-strengthening faith in Christ, which started out as a decimal of desire for Him, compounds and flourishes not in a safe greenhouse but out in the harsh elements of this fallen world where alone we cannot survive but where with Jesus–the Vine Who nourishes us the branches–we cannot be stopped. And as we look back at any point on our journey over the misty bridge, we can see how far He has faithfully brought us and use the tool of remembering God’s past deeds to spur us on to move forward with Him confidently.