Hebrews 11:1-3,6-8

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible…

And without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. Hebrews 11:1-3,6-8

Like many seminarians, I had a favorite professor. I took every class he taught. Semester after semester, there I would be, sitting in the back row, waiting for him to teach the same stuff that he taught in every class, no matter the name of the class. Call it intuition or the work of the Holy Spirit guiding my education, all I knew was that I wanted to master what he had to teach. I never had a personal or friendly relationship with him; mostly I felt like an irritant. Maybe because he could sense that I was on to his habit of teaching the same things over and over again.

There were times when I asked questions that he took seriously. But there was one time that I challenged him and he completely blew off my question. I said something along the lines of, “Everything you teach is predicated on the prior assumption that there really is a God. How can we engage people who are steadfastly convinced that God is a figment of our imaginations? A childish myth that has long ago lost its usefulness?” He wouldn’t even take up the question. I came away feeling silly for having asked it.

A few years ago I was with him again at a continuing education event. This time I caught him after hours over a beer. I took a shot and asked him the question again. This time he responded with something along the lines of “The longer I live, the more it seems to me that the only rational explanation of what happens in the world is the providence and presence of a loving God in, with, and under, it all.” I’m still chewing on that one.

I have never had an appreciation for the words “blind faith.” You will never hear me use those words in a sermon or a devotion. In my reading, Jesus healed blind people. Blind faith, to me at least, is a euphemism for wishful thinking. God doesn’t invite us into wishful thinking. God invites us into a relationship grounded in faith.

Hebrews says that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Cutting out the qualifying words means faith is about assurance and conviction. Faith is about confidence, loyalty, fidelity. Grounded in what? Grounded in the story that captured the reality of God revealed in Jesus and trusted, never perfectly, by millions of faithful people upon whose shoulders we stand.

This faith, says Hebrews, is what pleases God. And the rewards it provides are built into the behaviors such faith leads us into. Faith is action. Not blind action but real action, in real life, by real people, for real people. There is nothing blind about that. And there is little room for playing it safe.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, may our lives be a pleasing sacrifice to you today. In our words, in our thoughts, in our decisions, even when doing the right thing might be judged by the world as crazy, we want to follow as you lead the way. Let our confidence in you carry us as surely as the ground we walk on holds us up. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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One Response to “Hebrews 11:1-3,6-8”

  1. Carolee Says:

    In Scripture we meet faithful people whose stories inspire and challenge us today. Each story is a unique picture of faith, as well as a constant reminder that faith is always a call to action.

    Faith is always a call to action.

    Frederick Buechner in his book “Wishful Thinking” describes faith:

    “Faith is better understood as a verb rather than a noun, as a process rather than a possession. It is on-again-off-again rather than once-and-for-all. Faith is not being sure where you’re going but going anyway. A journey without maps.”

    I like his description of faith as “a journey without maps”. I pray for the ever present Holy Spirit to guide me on that journey of faith.

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