Engaged Faith (unabridged)

How long has it been since you were engaged? I’m not talking about to your spouse. How long has it been since you were engaged in an intense contest, a big game, an all out battle?

Do you recall Hebrews 11:6: “Without faith it is impossible to please God?” The author of this great chapter on faith and its all-stars lets us know up front that faith is essential in the Christian life, and is much more important than simply believing.

Faith is confidence in God and in His ability. Therefore, faith that is tested intensely becomes trust if the test is passed.

In other words, if faith is confidence in God and His ability, then trust is confidence in God and His ability when it appears as though He is untrustworthy and incapable. Under tough conditions, faith and trust are ripped from the realm of religious terminology and placed alongside courage, determination, and perseverance.

I don’t subscribe to the concept of “blind faith.” Faith is not blind. Faith may find itself in a maze, or being buffeted with ferocity, but I disagree with the picture of helpless, meaningless, doubting, blind faith. Faith doesn’t look at circumstances to acquire a heading.  Faith looks at its object, the Lord Jesus Christ, and moves forward.

That sounds nice, religious, and unrealistic, doesn’t it?

What does faith, forged into trust, focused on its object, look like in real life?

Notice in verse 11:8 of Hebrews that Abraham believed God, packed his U-Haul ox cart, and left home “…not knowing where he was going.” We know the end of the story: He makes it to the promised land. But Abraham didn’t know the end of the story. He left home clueless but committed.

Ready for another dose?

After detailing a formidable list of faith all-stars, chapter eleven draws to a close (v.39) with this verse: “And all these [people of faith], having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised.”

Bad ending to the story, huh?

All these great folks, listed over the space of thirty-eight verses and hundreds of years, died without receiving what God had promised them. It’s under these circumstances that superficial, self-serving faith withers and true faith is forged into trust.

These dear folks demonstrated obedient faith that was tempered through their personal histories into trust, trust that remained faithful. Each one reached the terminus of life, facing martyrdom, without realizing the fulfillment of God’s promise. As the enemy screamed indictments against God, while dying torturous deaths, deep in their hearts they must have heard the Lord saying, “TrustMe.”

And they did! Their names are in the chapter.

You and I have the benefit of looking backward over hundreds of years and seeing that God was faithful to them. The promises were fulfilled.

But their roles do not end with their testimonies. Chapter twelve informs us that these great men and women of faith are now gathered in the grandstands of heaven surrounding the playing field of earth. They are cheering for us! And, these folks are not armchair quarterbacks. They have been where we are.

We’re in a big game. The crowd is into it. The angels and others offer encouragement, but the all-stars offer timely exhortations. They have run the race, scaled the cliffs, forded the torrents, and faced the barriers that impede us, imposing and dominant.

Engage! Stand encouraged! Our older brothers’ and sisters’ lives are a megaphone calling out the next cheer for the visiting team, and that’s us. This place is not our home. We’re only visiting this planet. Soon, we too will be in heaven’s grandstands where a faith all-star has a seat reserved next to him.

The movie Braveheart, attributes to William Wallace the statement, “Every man dies, but not every man truly lives.”

This is our chance! We are engaged in a great battle over an extraordinary cause, and you play an integral part in the outcome.

Are you fully engaged?