“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for….” Heb. 11:1
The above is the biblical “definition” of faith, the verse that comes to mind when we start to ponder what faith is, anyway. Being sure of what we hope for. Being certain of what we can’t see. Stepping out on a bridge that is invisible, certain that it must be underneath us. (Remember that scene in the Indiana Jones movie?)
In other words, crazy. No, wait....
The writer of the chapter goes on to praise individuals like Noah and Abraham and many more, who all did nutty stuff like build arks because they believed God wanted them to. And time bore out their faith – Noah needed that boat. Abraham did have that many descendants. Hebrews 11 is the “honor roll” of faith, the listing of those whose example can spur us on to more faith ourselves, to add a few more nutty things into our lives because we believe God wants us to.
This morning I see, though, that we miss an important step when we read too quickly over v. 2 – “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was NOT made out of what was VISIBLE.”
This seems to me to be a necessary logical piece that undergirds faith: we believe God because we believe that He essentially made everything that is visible (and rational and provable) out of what was not visible. We usually consider that He creates from nothing, but this verse makes the point that He also created an invisible realm, a whole way of being that exists outside of our senses.
When we struggle with faith, perhaps it’s important to realize that we have a tendency to trust what we sense as being “real” – but that’s faulty. God certainly exists outside of our five senses, and He has the right to create much that we do not sense. We are arrogant if we really think that only what we can discover on our own is what exists.
That understanding makes the actions of the Honor Roll of Faith not so crazy; in fact, they are rational! Having accepted that there is more than meets the eye (or ear or nose – you get the picture), they are better prepared to put their faith in God’s call and direction.
“Without faith,” the author of Hebrews continues, “it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (v. 6)
Perhaps the first step of such faith is to gain humility, considering that what is seen was made by One who is not seen, who lives in a realm we do not see, and that there is so much more we do not yet know. When we are in that frame of mind, we are ready to hear God.