Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Our lives are built on trust. Even the most self-sufficient of us have placed our hope in something. It’s the way we’re made. It’s by hope and belief in something that we make it through each day. Otherwise, we’d look at the dismal state of the world, lose all hope, and probably retreat into our little shells like turtles.
We live in what many call the attention economy. Something or someone is constantly battling for our hearts and eyes. Every new app, show, movie, and tech company all want the same thing: our hearts. They all want us to think, they’re a secure place to put our hope. That by indulging in their product or service, we will be made whole.
I’m reading a commentary on the book of right now and I was struck by these words: when anything other than the Word of God is given the supreme place, so that we base our lives upon it and guide our lives by it, then it becomes a lie and a source of lies.
We can go wrong in two ways with this faith thing. The first is when we put our faith in places that aren’t capable of supporting us. You know how we do, we go through some things and we turn to our strength, we turn to others, or we turn to vices to save us.
We sound like Pusha T on New God Flow: “ I believe there’s a God above me, I’m just the god of everything else.” We act as though the created things of this world, including ourselves, have the capacity to be what only God can be. But we, and things, and other people make terrible gods. Constantly falling short, unable to be the God we so desperately need.
On the other hand, sometimes things are going well and we attribute our success to our aptitude. We suddenly become amnesiacs and forget that every good and perfect gift is placed in us by God. Filled with pride, we take all of the glory for ourselves.
The other way we go wrong is we believe promises God hasn’t made. This also happens in two ways.
The first is that we create a version of God in our hearts who has made promises that aren’t found in Scripture. That naturally leads to disappointment when we expect things to happen that God never promised. We say we just need to “believe God” about something he has never spoken about or His word is taken out of context. Of course then, we are surprised when things don’t go our way. Again, the Amos commentary has good words about this:
When a part of the truth is taken to be the whole truth it becomes an untruth, simply because it is stretched beyond its limit, and becomes warped and altered. And when such misshapen ‘truth’ is taken as the guide for life, what can it do but mislead?
This is why faithfulness to the Word of God is so important. If we start to stretch it and reform it, twist it to say what it doesn’t say, we are only going to be led astray in the end. Believing lies we thought were true.
The second way we go wrong is when we trust ourselves so much that we make decisions and then ask God to bless them. Rather than praying about a situation and seeking His wisdom for our lives, we make the move and then assume God is going to bless it. That’s not faith, that’s belief in yourself.
Both of these are summed up by Allen from the show Under the Banner of Heaven: “Men listening to their own selfish desires and calling it God so they can justify anything.”
Faith is not the suspension of belief but profound trust that God is not a liar. I think people often look at Christians and assume that we blindly trust an invisible man in the sky. That is not the case at all. In reality, we trust that God, the eternal omnipresent God, is not a liar and that his word is true and can be trusted.
So when God says, I will never leave you or forsake you, we trust that he is there in the good times and when things are hard. Our faith is in the fact that if our present circumstances are dire, they’re not the end.
God is not a magic genie sky here to grant our wishes. He is a love and personal Father who cares deeply about us, this is who we put our faith in. Faith is a deep, profound trust that God was not lying when he says he loves us and will care for us.
Further, I believe God tells us what our faith should look like. James says in 1:27 that true religion (faith) is to visit the widow and the orphan. What if the truest expression of faith was in service to others and not ourselves?
True faith is seeing beyond our wishes to the needs of others. We know that faith without works is dead (James 2:14–26) and God has saved us and empowered us to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). True faith, true trust in God, just might be seeing beyond our little worlds and laying our lives down for others just as his Son did for us.