~by Randy Bushey
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation (Hebrews 11:1,2).
Our culture defines faith in decidedly cynical terms.
In the last century, American pundit and journalist H.L. Mencken explained it as “an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.”
Others have described it as “tactical truth avoidance” or “perfect understanding paired with perfect ignorance.”
Is faith really a “blind leap into the dark”?
Not so in the Bible, where faith is explained in terms of assurance, certainty, and confident hope.
Why such a polarity of difference?
Part of the answer may lie in contemporary culture’s aversion to that which cannot be perceived through the 5 senses.
It’s called empiricism (a close cousin of positivism or scientism).
The basic assertion of empiricism is that what is true can only be verified through the senses: touch, taste, smell, sound, sight.
You may naturally be wondering, but is that statement – that what is true can only be verified through the senses – even true? How can that statement ever be verified through the senses? It cannot, and therefore is self-refuting.
In Hebrews 11:1 (above), the unnamed author under inspiration of the Holy Spirit asserts that faith is the conviction of things not seen.
The writer was clearly explaining that faith apprehends what cannot be perceived through any of the 5 senses.
And when you think of it for a few seconds, we all know there are real things – things that we categorize as genuine or authentic – that cannot be perceived by sense perception alone: historical facts, love, courage, trustworthiness of character, team loyalty, work ethic, accurately anticipating the reaction of another person…and the list goes on.
These are things not seen.
But although intangible, they are very real.
For those things – real things – we employ faith. We arrive at certainty, assurance, confidence.
Faith is about inferences drawn and conclusions derived from evidence and experience.
But let’s think a little more broadly. Faith is not exclusively the domain of those who follow Christ. Every worldview employs faith. Even atheism – the total denial of God’s existence – is a faith position.
Also, we utilize faith every day in so-called “everyday” actions – when we drive, when we consume food, when we send texts and email.
I’ve been accompanying family members to healthcare visits as of late. I’m amazed at how often we’ve been introduced to someone in a lab coat who presents themselves as a medical specialist. Within seconds we are engaged in very private, intimate conversations with a person we’ve never seen before and may never encounter again; someone whose credentials, expertise, and benevolent intentions we’ve simply accepted on faith.
Now someone might object, “well, that’s reasonable faith”!
Which is precisely the brand of faith that God calls on every person to embrace and demonstrate.
It’s on the foundation of reasonable faith – and on it exclusively – that the Lord builds a relationship with each of us.
Again, faith is about inferences drawn and conclusions derived from evidence and experience.
One more thing: the higher the stakes, the more correct and evidence-based those inferences and conclusions must be.
Investing $10 in a stock is one thing; investing $10,000 takes a lot more careful, objective consideration of the evidence.
So how careful must one be when the consequences are truly of an eternal dimension?
Takeaway: pleasing God should be the vocation and primary objective of every true Christ-follower.
And its reward is immeasurable.
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him (Hebrews 11:6).
~graphic by Dave Shields, freeimages.com