by Javan Rowe
The word faith has been tossed around so much today the true meaning has been nearly lost. We claim to have faith in our kids, our country, or our local football team. When our children let us down, we tell them they must earn our trust again. If the opposing political candidate is elected, we lose faith in the government. When we are repeatedly disappointed by our favorite team, we sometimes give up hope of ever seeing a championship.
The writer of Hebrews wrote, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (11:1). Even though we do not see God in a physical sense, we can still be confident he exists and is at work in us and around us. Faith says, “God, I don’t see you, but I believe you are there.”
Faith is more than a linear, two-dimensional belief in God. It contains layers and dimensions often undiscovered. For instance, it has a unique history we can trace back to the birth of Christ and forward to his return. Add to this the communal aspects of faith we experience today and we find a faith with three perspectives: past, present, and future. These components combine to provide us with a faith that is vibrant and living, not just theoretical.
1. The Past: Historic Faith
We find a great relay race of faith when we read through the Bible. The Old Testament reveals how faith passed from Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, to his 12 sons, and so on.
We can read Scripture and see how God wove faith throughout the generations to create a faith history. To discover this history, we need to open its pages and search the depth of God’s wisdom. It increases our faith to study the faith of great men and women like Moses, Ruth, and David.
Our faith’s history is more than what we see in the Bible, though. Our faith has its own unique past, where God personally intervened. Other believers shared their faith with us because someone else presented the gospel to them. We are products of generations of people in a line that runs all the way back to the apostles and Jesus himself.
In Joshua chapter 4, upon crossing the Jordan, the Israelites took 12 stones from the water “to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever” (v. 7). We build memorials by recalling how God has come to our aid numerous times. We can look to our past history of faith to increase our present faith, as well as present a powerful testimony to others.
2. The Present: Communal Faith
Honorable as it may have been for the monks of the first Millennium to travel to the desert alone to enjoy intimate communion with God, God intended for us to be part of a community. The church is designed not only to fulfill the Great Commission but to provide a place for believers to grow and find encouragement. We meet with other believers to recharge our spiritual batteries as we enter a new week.
The church is made up of different types of people with various personalities and spiritual gifts. We learn from one another by sharing our lives and experiences. Discipleship involves the experience of one who has been there. You may have trudged through a particular landscape that has given you unique knowledge that can help someone else about to embark on a similar journey. Instead of giving instructions and leaving others to figure it out for themselves, we walk with them.
We do not live the Christian life in solitude. The New Testament consistently refers to the community of believers. We are not lone soldiers on a battlefield. We stand as a whole regimen of soldiers ready to assist other believers when they stumble. The gospel spreads rapidly when a multitude of soldiers march in unison.
This is a call to become involved in the local church. Connect with a small group so you can grow through personal interaction. Find a ministry to give expression to your faith. Christianity is communal so we should strive to become as involved with other believers as possible.
3. The Future: Optimistic Faith
Faith is being “certain of what we do not see.” The greatest thing we have to look forward to, although it is invisible to us now, is Heaven. When we read about the promises of the afterlife in Scripture and cling to our hope, optimism is birthed. As we place our faith in Scripture’s promises, our perspectives will change from pessimism to optimism.
Optimism about our future should motivate us to action. One could say the primary use of faith is to benefit others, but when we work for the Lord, he will reward us individually. God is the object of our optimism.
Our faith also has a more immediate future as we live in this present age. A great way to prepare ourselves for what we might face tomorrow is by living according to biblical truth, which provides something to strive toward. These motivational truths may be as simple as verses from the Bible that we hide in our hearts.
Some personal examples include: “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15); “Stop doing wrong, learn to do right” (Isaiah 1:16, 17); “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, 22); and “Be imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1).
When you come across verses you want to live by, keep them with you until you “write them on the tablet of your heart” (Proverbs 7:3) so they can never be taken from you.
It can be a challenge to view our faith as vibrant, with its own unique history of a past, present, and future. Each aspect is laced with a firm belief in a God we cannot see. God is complex. Let’s respond to his complexity by practicing three-dimensional faith.
Javan Rowe is a freelance writer in Columbus, Ohio.
Do you want to experience a vibrant faith? Perhaps this resource can help you.
Embracing Faith is part of the 365 Devotions® Devotional Journal series. Every day this year, you will find these items:
• A Scripture reference for the day’s Bible reading.
• A Scripture verse for memorization.
• An inspiring, thought-provoking meditation.
• A prayer thought to focus the reader’s heart and mind on God.
• Daily journaling space.
Find out more: www.standardpub.com