Faith is one of those words that we hear a great deal. However, I wonder at times if we really know what the word means. I am a big believer in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, by this I mean a sure enough hard back copy that I keep on my desk at all times. One of Webster’s definitions for the word faith is, “belief and trust in loyalty to God.” This sounds good, but Webster’s definition is nowhere near the Scriptural definition. In order to understand faith as Christian’s we must begin with the Bible. The writer of Hebrews defines faith as, “the assurance of things hoped for the conviction of things not seen,” (Hebrews 11:1, RSV).
Faith is something that is tangible in the fact that is can be perceived by an individual, but yet it is not tangible in that that it cannot be touched. In other words faith is not a literal physical object, but it is a perception that we have of God. How is it perceived? Faith is perceived through and by the Holy Spirit(I wonder sometimes if we United Methodist even know who the Holy Spirit is).
Remember, in John the 14th Chapter Jesus is telling his disciples that there are many mansions in his father’s house. He also tells them that he is going to leave them, shortly. He is getting ready for the cross, and all of the sorrow that lies ahead. He also tells them the following, “I will ask the father and he will send another Companion, that will be with you forever. This companion is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world can’t receive because it neither sees him or recognizes him. You know him, because he lives with you and will be with you. I wont leave you as orphans. I will come to you, (John 14: 15-18). The Holy Spirit is the one who makes faith come alive in God, through Jesus. Which, by the way none of us have or at least I have never seen God or Jesus in the physical so again, faith comes into play.
Faith has been on my mind recently. In all honesty what I do and its relevance to the world has been haunting me for sometime. As I shared yesterday, what difference does what we do here at First United Methodist Church, Water Valley, Mississippi, make in people’s lives. Again, faith comes into play.
The Biblical definition offered in Hebrews 11:1 speaks of hoping for something when I can’t see in evidence of it at all at work in my life. In those times the conviction still remains deep within me.
N.T. Wright the former bishop of Durham, and one of world’s premier Bible teachers, has this to say about faith. “Faith is like a window. The point is not for part of the wall to be made of glass. A window is there because we want to see through it-and let light into the room! Faith allows us to see our situation and our weakness in light of God, who is powerful, holy, and loving.” I hope I never lose the ability to see out of the window. When we can no longer see out the window our faith is no longer viable to lead us into this powerful, holy, loving source that we call God.