I really like that verse from the New Testament book of Hebrews, one of the most scholarly and profound treatises in the whole canon of Christian scriptures. I read it last night. Even though that’s a Bible verse I’ve heard all my life, it struck me fresh. “Hmmm,” I wondered. “That almost sounds like existentialism!”
But existentialism aside (that’s really a joke!), this passage defines “faith” better than Webster. And best of all, the Hebrews definition doesn’t “dogmatize” the term as I’ve heard it so carelessly abused so often in my life by church people. We churchgoers have a tendency to mindlessly toss around terms like “faith” as bits of what I (sarcastically) refer to as “the jargon of the redeemed.”
So, I freely mean to imply that churchgoers have a problem with the term, like much of the “jargon of the redeemed,” because we (yes, I’m a churchgoer!) talk about having faith, but we attach that faith to abosolute terms of belief (or, dogma?) that are contrary to the spirit of this inspired statement from Hebrews.
Look at what this verse says: Faith is based in HOPE! Most of the well-intentioned dogmatists I’ve known in church all my life practice as if faith is based in fact. If you think about the difference, that’s pretty profound.
I like this idea of holding to hope as reality, of finding proof in that which I can’t see. That’s what I call an inspired definition! And it makes me feel better about not having all the answers! (I really distrust those who make that claim.)
So that’s my devotional thought for this evening. How refreshing!
(The photo credit above: Scrovegni’s Personification of Faith from the article on faith at Wikipedia.