WHAT IS FAITH?
What is faith? It’s a word we kick around nonchalantly. “Just have faith in yourself,” we tell our struggling friends. “I don’t have much faith in our quarterback this season,” we comment as we watch our team lose game after game. What kind of faith are we talking about when we throw the term around in these contexts? Let me ask the question again. What is faith? What if we put the emphasis on each different word? WHAT is faith? What IS faith? What is FAITH?
Academically speaking, what is faith? According to the World English Dictionary, faith is a “strong or unshakable belief in something, especially without proof or evidence.” And according to the World English Bible, “faith is assurance of things hoped for, proof of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
Traditionally speaking, what is faith? Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Helen Keller said “Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light.”
But in real, practical, gut-level, applicable, day-to-day life…what is faith? Is it a noun? Is it a verb? What…is…faith?
- Faith is a belief in someone or something that goes beyond yourself.
- Faith is waiting patiently for something better to come your way.
- Faith is wrestling through the mud and muck, confident that pure and clean lie on the other side.
- Faith is surrendering the desire to have all the answers beforehand.
- Faith is closing your eyes, holding your breath, and moving forward even when you can’t see where you’re going.
- Faith is facing today head-on, even when yesterday was dark and dismal.
- Faith is the spark of something positive in the back of your mind, when the rest of your mind is littered with negative.
- Faith is having no idea where provision is going to come from, but trusting that it will indeed come.
What is faith? Where does it come from? How does it work? What…is…faith?
Ultimately, the power of faith rests in the power of the object we are putting our faith in. If we approach an old rocking chair and choose to sit in it, we are placing all of our faith in the chair. We believe that the rocking chair itself has the strength, power, and framework to hold us up. As we transfer all of our weight onto it, the power rests in the chair, not in us.
When we tell our struggling friends, for instance, “Just have faith in yourself,” we are predicating that ultimate power rests with them, that they possess the definitive, critical, and fundamental power to improve their situation. And when we speak of having faith in our quarterback, we are affirming that he has paramount, overriding, and utmost power to be successful assure victories for our team.
We put our faith in a lot of crazy things, don’t we? Probably the #1 being ourselves. But we also put our faith in money, friends, employers, the weatherman, our daily horoscope, our vehicles, luck, science and technology, etc. Here’s the kicker…if faith rests in the power of the object we are putting our faith in, we must ask ourselves, “How much power do these things really have?” Do they have ultimate power? Do they have strength beyond all others? Are they flawless? Are they limitless? Are they 100% reliable 100% of the time? If we answer “no” to any of these questions, then we should hesitate to place our faith in these objects.
1 Corinthians 2:5 says, “so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” Read that verse again. Four key words: faith—rest—power—God! Fundamentally, the power rests not in our faith, but the object of our faith. Our faith rests in the power of God. God has ultimate power. God has strength beyond all others. God is flawless. God is limitless. God is 100% reliable 100% of the time.
Beginning today, let your faith rest in the power of God!