The Substance of Faith

The stock market went up about 350 points in the last two days.  Why?  According to news reports, investors responded favorably to an agreement in Europe to stabilize the banks and to deal with Greece’s debt.  The plan is sketchy and it will take weeks to work out the details.  In reality, however, nothing has changed.  The pesky debt has not disappeared and European economies are still in trouble, yet investors responded with real money in faith that something will change.

Our president was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in October of 2009.  Why?  Frankly, I’m not sure, but a Wikipedia article quotes the Nobel Foundation’s explanation of the award as given “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”  He hadn’t had time to actually do any of that as of October of 2009, but the Nobel Foundation must have had faith that he would.  Some day.

The financial melt-down of 2008 occurred when sub-prime mortgages were exposed for what they really were: risky loans that banks should never have made.  For years the loans were packaged, re-packaged, bought and sold in faith that they were safe investments when the reality was quite the contrary.

Occupy Wall Street is a protest movement that is being taken seriously by the media and in Washington, yet it has no leadership or discernible plan for substantive action.  In the words of Peggy Noonan, it is “more poetry slam than platform.”  It is just the sort of movement that gets attention in a day when perception is increasingly set free from reality.  Protesters must have faith that they are accomplishing…something.

People put their faith in all kinds of ideas, promises and illusions because they want to believe them, not necessarily because there is any solid evidence worthy of their trust.  Yet, when it comes to God, this is viewed as problematic because, according to a about.com discussion of faith, theism and atheism, people who believe in God “have formed a belief about the state of the world independent of information about the world.”  The article goes on to distinguish between faith in God as “the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen” (Hebrews 11:1) and a more common faith in other people or confidence in human institutions.  Yes, these are two different types of faith, and we shouldn’t confuse them.  But I think we are.

As I observe the world today, I believe we are taking the kind of faith that belongs to God and placing it in people and human ideologies or institutions.  The examples above, it seems to me, demonstrate people placing faith in things hoped for on the basis of evidence unseen.  In doing so, people are actually behaving “independent of information about the world.”

That is misplaced faith, for God is the only one worthy of faith that is “the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.”  Hebrews 11:1

In whom, or in what, do you put your faith?  Is your faith rightly placed in one who has proven worthy of it?

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3 Responses to The Substance of Faith

  1. Sue Anderson says:

    Many would say that what Christians consider evidence “seen” of God, is still not really visual evidence. They haven’t seen Him, Jesus, walking the earth. Even those that saw Jesus, didn’t all believe. I know that I talked to God this morning and He spoke back, either directly through His word, the bible, or through strong and clear impressions that are consistent with His word. I am convinced that it was His voice. That to unbelievers is still evidence unseen. We believe that our faith is rightly placed and that God has proven Himself worthy of this faith. But in the whole pool of humanity, faith is still faith. Believing as real, things hoped for, but yet unseen. The ultimate proof, which only happens once in a human’s experience, is upon death. Then what has been dim or unseen, will be clear as day. I thank God for the evidences that He gives me, that leave me convinced that He is as real as you are. But only when faith becomes sight, will we have the true evidence. I can’t wait for that day.

    • Judy says:

      Yes! Beautifully said, Sue. What will that day be like, the day that faith becomes sight? How much of what we “see” with our physical senses will disappear and be replaced by what we can’t now “see”?

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