If you ask a dozen people to define faith, you would probably receive a dozen different answers. Some say, “You gotta have faith.” What does that mean? Some base faith on a feeling such as, “I trust my gut.” Some theologians say, “You can find God through creation. Just look at the stars and the beauty of the earth.” Others take a step or two farther and claim that God is in creation or that creation is God. Still others announce, “You are the only one you can trust” or “You have to take a leap of faith.”
If we consider all of these, they have one thing in common. They either are faith in what one sees or there is no object for faith. The Bible has a very different take on the matter of faith. In writing to the Corinthian church, Paul states,
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
The Corinthian church arose from the Greek-Roman culture, which was polytheistic. The people carved images of things from the created order and set them up as gods. There were gods that they could see, and they worshipped them. Where their faith was, their hope followed. However, when they became believers in Christ, they had to reorient their worldview. This was especially true in the difficulties they encountered during their time. That reorientation was a radical departure from what they saw to unseen realities.
In writing to them, Paul once again reminded them of the true nature of faith. Its object was the unseen God and His unseen promises. He informed them that Christ was the object of their faith, and that He dwelled in unseen reality. For this reason, he encouraged them not to lose heart. The things of creation were helpless to uphold them in their trials, inasmuch as they wanted to cling to these created objects. The God of the entire universe held sway over all the created order including them. He was their rock and anchor. Consequently, in spite of the difficulties they encountered, they could be assured that they were safe in the hands of the Almighty God, the Father of the Lord Jesus. They were His children. In light of these truths, he referred to trials and difficulties as “light afflictions” in comparison to the glory they would encounter when they left their earthly tent – their created bodies. God’s oversight was their hope.
How much more true is that for us today who face threats of annihilation in a world gone mad with greed, power, and lust. Keeping our eyes on the unseen reality of God and His promise to be with us and on Jesus who saves us enables courage. The letter to the Hebrews encourages us to keep our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. He suffered far worse trials and temptation and was executed. His resurrection guarantees the fulfillment of God’s promise that those who believe Him as the Savior will be with Him eternally.
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