December 31, 2019
Hebrews 11:1, 13 (NIV)
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for . . .
13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.
We have all heard the reference of blind faith. Even Scripture seems to nod to this notion. Paul says to the Corinthian Christians, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV) It has a certain logic, but to walk by faith is not to be blind. Walking by faith means seeing with a vision beyond mere eyesight. Faith is actually the opposite of blindness. It means super vision.
The Bible is the revealed record of those sinners, saints, angels, and apostles who saw the vision and abandoned their lives to see its fulfillment. Faith is not blind, if by blind we mean unable to see.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
The problem comes when we adopt a concept of faith built around the limits of what we can see with our eyes. We live imprisoned by our challenging circumstances, turning to God for help and relief according to the level of our desperation. When things work out we consider God has heard our prayers, and when they don’t we chalk it up to some other reason God must have or a bigger plan.
This is blind faith. This is the realm of transactional faith. It is “Help me” faith, which, I repeat, is not bad but is only meant to be a stage of faith we pass through rather than getting stuck in. If we are honest with ourselves, the overwhelming quest of this kind of faith is to help us make it through “this life” in “this world” and go to heaven when we die. This kind of faith bounces between the boundaries of prosperity on one side and poverty on the other; battling between peace and perseverance depending on the day. And in between we invest in the stock market, buy lottery tickets, purchase insurance policies, go to church, pray and try to be good citizens. In other words, we do our best to build our homes in this world, making the best of a broken situation, and somehow our faith gets us through. To be sure, this is faith, but it is a domesticated faith at best.
This is not the faith the ancients were commended for. The ancients were commended for a visionary faith that could see past the veil of what was visible to the eye and into the glorious realm of God’s revelation. The ancients were commended for faith-walking their ordinary lives up to that cliff and jumping off. It’s right there in v.13
All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.
To be a foreigner and stranger on earth does not mean biding one’s time until escaping to heaven. It means to live boldly by faith, contending for the beatific vision of “on earth as it is in heaven.” It means to take one’s stand on this soil and live as a transcendent beacon of all the promises and possibilities of God in Jesus name, by the power of the Holy Spirit, right here and right now. It looks like two retirees the world would consider “as good as dead” who dare to look up at the stars and believe the time they have left could be enough to change the world. It looks like a family building a boat in the middle of a desert. It looks like a kid with a slingshot facing a giant. It looks like an army armed with trumpets, torches and clay pots.
I realize I may be scaring half of the Daily Text community away today, here on the last day of the decade. I don’t mean to. I just want you to wake up. I love you too much to let you hit the snooze bar again. The biggest impediment to you and I waking up to the next step of faith God has for us is we are pretty sure we are already awake.
We live in an age increasingly anesthetized by darkness. We are all affected. It will take a great awakening to turn the tide. It will take mountain-moving faith. Some of you reading have already begun to stand up and say, “Here I am, Lord. Send me.” And to be sure, I don’t have in mind hundreds of people quitting their jobs, becoming professional Christians and “going into the ministry.” That’s a far too predictable and benign strategy for the task at hand.
The truth is, I am not writing to all of you today. I am not even writing to some of you. I am writing to one of you. Because when just one person stands up and steps forward into this kind of invitation, millions wake up.
The only question you have to answer today is am I writing to you.
Our Father in Heaven, part of me is offended by these words and yet that same part of me is challenged to the core of my being. I want to dismiss this as impractical and unreasonable yet something deeper tells me to lean in. I hardly grasp this yet I will lean in and say, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” We pray in the name of our Lord and King, Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Amen.
So am I writing to you today?
NEXT ON THE DAILY TEXT: Invite your friends, families, churches, bowling leagues, axe throwing clubs, knitting circles, and golf foursomes to join us January 1, 2020 for a month long invitational Daily Text series called First Word. Last Word.
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