What is faith? Is it just a blind leap into what cannot actually be known? Is it just believing in something so we can make it through another day?
The writer of Hebrews gives what is probably the most famous definition: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) It sounds not far off the general idea of faith as a blind leap, doesn’t it?
But to understand what this means, we need to look to what follows — a litany of examples of faith from the annals of Old Testament history. “By faith, Abraham obeyed…” (The text for Sunday is abbreviated but the whole chapter is worth reading. Click here for the full chapter.) What we see is a pattern of action — action driven by faith.
Faith is not just some detached belief, nor some blindly held notion, but is that which enables us to live lives pleasing to God. Faith enables us to choose the call of God in the face of desires of the flesh.
Faith is not, we see, about feeling a certain way or assenting to a particular set of doctrines. It is rather about a way of living, a way of choosing a life dedicated to God.
So the next time someone tells you to “Keep the faith!” remember that you are not just being encouraged to keep slogging the same path with a vague optimism, but to turn you life over to the call of God!
This column appeared in the August 7, 2022 edition of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
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