What Is Faith?

For the last several weeks, we have been working our way through the stories of Daniel and his friends. Along the way, we have been driven by a very simple question: What does it look like to be faithful when no one else is? As our culture continues to change such that followers of Jesus are increasingly feeling lonelier than we ever have been, the examples those stories have offered have been a great help. Yet for all our talk of being faithful, we have left out an important and logically prior question: What is faith in the first place? In this bonus episode of the series, we are going to tackle that together. Come with me today on a journey of discovering what faith is and what that means for our lives.

What Is Faith?

The word “faith” is a little bit like a blank canvas. It means different things to different people in different circumstances. Now, this is not at all to say it has no fixed meaning—I think it does—but the way the word is used today would not do a very good job of giving much confidence of that fixed meaning to someone learning of the concept for the first time. Indeed, the way faith is often presented in a variety of places in today’s pop culture would suggest that it is not a very substantive thing in the first place. I mean, think about the last movie or television series you watched when one character or another was waiting on something good happening in the future whose prospects didn’t look very good. What was that character told to do by a well-meaning counselor? He was told to “have faith.” When we are anticipating a particular outcome of a series of events we are told we just have to have faith that it will play out the way we want. 

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Morning Musing: Hebrews 10:32-34

“Remember the earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to taunts and afflictions, and at other times you were companions of those who were treated that way. For you sympathized with the prisoners and accepted with joy the confiscation of your possessions, because you know that you yourselves have a better and enduring possession.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

One of the things Jesus made clear over the course of His ministry is that following Him was not going to be easy. In fact, it was going to be hard…really hard. When we give our lives to God’s kingdom, the authorities of the kingdom of this world aren’t going to take the loss of their power over us lightly. To the extent they are able, they are going to make our lives as difficult and miserable as they can. The obvious question here is why anyone would sign up for this. Because there’s more to life than this life. Let’s talk about it.

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Digging in Deeper: Psalm 103:1-2

“My soul, bless the Lord, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. My soul, bless the Lord, and do not forget all his benefits.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

When was the last time you were in one of those moods where you were so glad you didn’t think anything could bring you down? Whatever life threw your way, you were ready to tackle it with a smile on you face. Everywhere you looked were more reasons to be happy. Sometimes, being around someone like that too long can drive us crazy, but it’s nice to feel that way at least every once in a while. It’s good to be filled with praise. Being filled with praise, though, should be more than just an occasional thing if you are a follower of Jesus. As David reminds us here, there are so many reasons to be filled with praise for the Lord that it should be a feature of our lives, not an exception. Let’s look at what he has to say.

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Digging in Deeper: Jeremiah 29:12-13

“You will call to me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Finding God is easy when times are good. But what about when times are hard? That’s often another matter entirely. Perhaps we get so tied up in our circumstances that we don’t ever even bother to look up. But most people instinctively reach up when things are hard. This starts to show itself from the first moment an infant reaches up to his mom and dad to pick him up when he’s crying. That is a response that has to be programmed out of us by life and experience. Yet God wants to be found. He wants to help. He desires to be desired. The prophet Jeremiah once reminded the people of Israel of this truth. The way he said it is both comforting and hard. Let’s explore why and what it might mean for us.

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Digging in Deeper: Genesis 1:28-31

“God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.’ God also said, ‘Look, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the surface of the entire earth and every tree whose fruit contains seed. This will be food for you, for all the wildlife of the earth, for every bird of the sky, and for every creature that crawls on the earth – everything having the breath of life in it – I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good indeed. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

When you start watching a particular television series, it sometimes takes a few episodes for the worldview of the writers to come out. In the first few episodes they are spending all their time introducing and establishing the main characters. They are revealing which characters are the protagonists and which are the antagonists. They are clarifying the various problems the characters are going to be facing together. And while you might get glimpses of the writers’ worldview in the midst of all of that, it is often difficult to tell which is the worldview they are promoting, and which are the worldviews they are simply presenting. This is all especially true for a traditional series that will run for 23 episodes. But as our television culture continues to shift in the direction of limited series of 8-13 episodes with higher production values (consider, for example, every single Disney+ original series), questions of worldview are being clarified much earlier. And so, as I recently watched the third episode of 1883, a major piece of its worldview was revealed, and I can’t help but to comment on it. I know we talked about the series earlier this week, but let’s come back to the series again this morning in more detail.

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