From: José Soto
Having read today's scripture reading, I want to reflect on the meaning of faith. It always puzzled me in early discipleship how faith, "just believing," could claim all it claims to do for us in scripture. What exactly is faith?
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews explains that faith is confidence (11.1). So it's not just intellectual assent ("sure, I believe that"). And the nature of this confidence is such that it shows the reality of what we hope for (NLT); that is, it is the evidence of things we cannot see. The confidence itself is evidence. Our great cloud of witnesses exemplify true faith thus actually embodying hope. They give us hope. We give each other hope, because God is at work in us and through us. Because we are evidence that what he promised is actually happening. And I don't believe that's only the case when we're cheerful. There are ups and downs, ebbs and flows, the Messiah on a cross. But we can be weak in our faith. We can be confused about our beliefs, and about what it means to believe. So what does it mean to believe? And what is it that our cloud of witnesses believe?
An important aspect of faith itself is that it's not optional. All humans live by faith. That's because ultimate meaning comes from outside, and we have to trust someone for it. As fascinating as science is, it cannot tell us why we're here, why there is something rather than nothing. We either trust divine revelation and the witness of those who saw more evidence than we have, or we trust our own unprovable theories. Similarly, when we come into the world, we have no idea what's going on. We count on our parents or caretakers and our culture to tell us what it all means. And we take their word for it. This is faith. This is where it all begins for us. We are, at core, trusting creatures, creatures of faith. It is by faith that we answer the most foundational questions we can ask: about who we are, what's going on, and what we're supposed to do. So we have to trust some source or other to tell us what to make of the world. The question is: who are our sources? And if our source is the word about Yahweh, then what's he up to, what are his intentions for the work of his hands? Not only do we depend on his word to know what it means to be human. The very mission of the church hinges on his eschatology.
In terms of what we believe, I think we go astray if we think of "spiritual" things when we hear of things we cannot see. The reason why we cannot see them is because they are not yet, not because they're necessarily invisible and part of the spiritual dimension of reality. But an important part of our faith is keeping in mind that there is a spiritual dimension, that there is more than meets the eye. Otherwise we'd be missing a huge chunk of the picture, our ability to make sense of things greatly hindered. The key though to understanding the faith of our cloud of witnesses remains the content of their faith. And it is this: Yahweh promised. And their hearts cling to his word, their gaze fixed where he said this is going. And there they go. So went Abram, Moses and Zelophehad's daughters, the prophets, the Lord Jesus, the apostles, those who went after them, and so do we: learning as we go to walk in his ways, to love what he loves, dancing to his beat. This faith -this trust and this confidence- that embodies hope, that shines light in the world for the life of the world, is a faith that lives and flows within the eschatological trajectory of history. It seems to me that all the content of our faith and of our life must find its place within it. We go from glory to glory, just as our Father likes it, because he's making all things new. Nothing will stop this.
I'm a servant-apprentice of the Lord Jesus, Mary's husband, Hannah's daddy, a brother, and a friend. I drive a truck for a living and I love Biblical Theology -of the worldview/story type.