Coming off of the back of our post last week, we talked about doubt.
Not a cheery topic.
Quite a downer, actually.
We left the children of Israel as they were ready to basically get rid of Moses and head back to Egypt and return to a life of slavery. Great outcome there everyone! Well done!
Let’s try and lift our mood a little here.
Let’s talk about the opposite of doubt. Because this is the only thing that kept these people from doing this, and it wasn’t even theirs, they had to survive on someone else’s.
How do we combat doubt and cultivate an attitude of faith? Well, before we jump right in to talking the how, let’s start – as is always a good idea – by defining terms.
It’s always important, any theologian or philosopher will tell you, to be specific in what you mean when you say something. So, when we use the word ‘faith’ here, what are we talking about?
Let’s turn to what is known as the ‘faith’ chapter in the Scripture:
Hebrews 11. It’s here that we get what has come to be known as the fullest and most complete definition of faith, right at the start of the chapter:
Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.
This translation is from the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) and I love the translation – faith is more than a hope or something ephemeral, it is a reality. It is hope that is brought into the present and lived out, it is something in the future that is seen with the certainty of it existing now.
Here are three (brief) things that we might say characterise this type of faith.
1. Faith is the foundation of the Christian Life
This is the starting point of all Christian life. This is the place where we are saved. We hear the Gospel, we know that Jesus has done something for us, and we respond by trusting Him and His promises. We then – by His grace – are saved. However, it is not all sitting back and just waiting for Heaven.
Faith is Action
Faith is not passive. We show we have faith – real faith – by the way that we move through the world. We show what we believe, who we trust, what we place importance on, by the way that we act and we can’t separate these things. Our desires drive our belief, and our belief drives our actions.
Look at the people who are mentioned in chapter 11:
Abel offered a better sacrifice.
Abraham went to live elsewhere.
Moses left Egypt.
Sarah conceived a child.
Faith engages all of who we are, and because of this:
3. Faith is a new way of seeing the world
Faith, when it is truly lived out, when it is grasped, opens our eyes to a new reality, to a new story about the world, a new way that the world is ordered.
There are a lot of examples of this, in film think of the classic trope of the world always being one way for a character, then all of a sudden something happens to them that reveals to them the true nature of the world – The Matrix, Oblivion, I Am Number 4, Jupiter Ascending etc. These are characters that live out of one story – the false one – and then finally encounter reality, and this changes everything about how they live.
So, how might we encounter this true story? How might we come to see the world as it truly is, and not as the powers of darkness would have it seem to us?
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17 (ESV)
There are 3 tips for you to grow your new reality faith:
1. Read Scripture
The best way to do this is to familiarise yourself with the story that is the true story of the world, and the way that everything really is.
Read the Gospels, the accounts of the life of Jesus, hear again the words that He said, and the actions that He took. This is one of the best ways to cultivate faith.
2. Confess your faith
There is something about the act of telling others our stories, telling people how God has come through for us, capturing those memories of how it felt, what we thought, and how everything turned out, that builds our faith, we see that God has been trustworthy in the past, and it gives us the confidence that he will be again in the future, that he is holding us in the palm of his hand.
3. Put Your Faith into Action
Don’t test God, but go where you think that he is calling you to go. Start with the stuff that he calls all of us to do. Step out and talk to someone about Jesus. Share your faith with someone, let someone know that you go to church, offer to pray for someone, invite them to a church event, invite them to a community group. These are all things that require that we trust God. These are things that require faith. We need to act on this new reality that we have seen.
When God tells us that the world really works one way – that those who are the greatest are those who serve, that those who gain their life are those who lose it, that those who are persecuted because they follow Jesus have inherited his kingdom – then we live out of that reality. We serve others, we look to their needs above our own, and we work with the Holy Spirit in extending the kingdom of God here on earth.
There is nothing more powerful than people who live out their faith, who trust God to do the things that he has said he will do.
The ultimate question is: Do we trust God?