Saturday, September 01, 2012


I meant to write this post almost a year ago, but never finished it. While I was at Camp (see previous post), I ended up improvising what I wanted to say all along for a cabin of 13 & 14 year old guys. Then I realized that I should probably write it down.

Almost two years ago, my friend Adam started a Bible Study group (or "Small Group" as I often call such things) consisting of people he knew from various places and people they knew. It's become a really important community for me in that time, but that's not the point of this post. Instead, I'm going to tell you about a little bit of what we studied in the Scriptures.

The Epistle to the Hebrews, or "Hebrews" for short, is an interesting part of the New Testament, partly because we don't have a listed author for it, and partly because it talks about some pretty funky stuff. We took a long time to study it, but we took the longest time on the eleventh chapter. Hebrews 11 is an oft-quoted bit of the Bible, where the author of Hebrews goes through a lot of the Old Testament and lists when various people demonstrated "faith", which he defines, to paraphrase a bit, as being sure of the things hoped for, the unseen promises of God. The author talks about Abraham moving to a country he had never seen, Joseph believing that his descendants would be leaving Egypt eventually, Moses choosing hardships over palace life, and finally goes into a long list with less specific associations about people doing great things but also being naked, hungry, stoned, and (my favorite) sawn in half.

Now this is all well and good and we can sit back and say "Well weren't they so brave and full of faith! Wow!", but that would ignore the next chapter (Hebrews 12, natch), where Paul puts in a bit of application. Since all of those people had faith and were able to endure such things and accomplish such things, we should similarly endure things and accomplish things, by faith. We, like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, etc are looking forward to "a better country", or a promised land, that we haven't seen. We don't have evidence for believing we'll get there, at least not the same way we do for most things in life - If we did, it wouldn't be faith.

None of that was really surprising to me when we studied it, but there's a difference between knowing intellectually that something makes sense (within the context of the Scriptures and Christianity) and knowing it in your gut and actions. The gut half started to happen a bit as we studied it, though, as I mulled over my own faith and how little it's tested in the ways Hebrews describes. It's not as if no one goes through that sort of thing for the sake of Christ anymore, but I've yet to be killed or be told by God to move to another country (much less one I've never heard of), and so I don't, can't, know exactly what I'll do when/if that happens. It's not as if I never have doubts - Hours, days, weeks go by sometimes when I see the other side more clearly and want to say that faith in the unseen is absurd, and I'm some of you would agree.

But then I come back to thinking, or maybe feeling, that it's true, which leaves me with the dilemma of what I'll do if that  happens. I don't think there's anything I can do but pray that, when it gets hard to have faith, he provides me with more. I was going to say that that's difficult, because it is and because I'd rather depend on my own faith than have to trust that he'll give me what I need... but I wouldn't have any faith if he didn't give it anyway.