August 15, 2019
Scripture Hebrews 11:1-3
Now, faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the convictions of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1 NRSV
The writer of Hebrews sends his letter to a group of Christians, who likely were Jewish converts to Christianity. For these folks, faith was not a new subject. They were very familiar with the Hebrew scriptures, a.k.a. Old Testament, that described all of the stories that we know in the book we call Genesis, 1 & 2 Samuel, and 1 & 2 Kings in our Bibles. So, these individual Jewish listeners would know the theme of faith and devotion to God which makes up the verses that follow in Chapter 11. Their being Christian, that entire chapter leads into the role of Jesus as “perfecter” of faith. This idea of God in human form required a huge shift in thinking and in faith among the Jewish believers. And yet, that is exactly what happened for many of them.
This Letter to the Hebrews follows with an explanation of God’s grace which merges with a description and experience of God’s power and might. God offers a kingdom that “cannot be shaken.” (Hebrews 12:28 NRSV) In this way, Jesus as Messiah moves beyond a political figure to an abiding presence sent from God. If we think of Jesus as both fully human and fully divine, that is of God, then we can better understand how Jesus becomes the transition to an expanded engagement of God with all people, including the non-Jewish people, known as Gentiles throughout the New Testament writings.
How is your faith shaping up? Can we bring in those who need us while maintaining our faith? Can our faith withstand the assaults of the doubters and detractors around us? The writer of Hebrews knows that many difficulties lay before the faithful. Like Jesus, they would stand up to the trial. Like the Hebrew people, their faith will lead them through every wilderness: they will prosper, even in a barren land, because God remains with them. Because this is God’s Word, it continues speaking to us today.
Knowing this, are you and I still looking for the smooth trail while disregarding the path open before us: a path which God holds open for us? Do you and I have faith enough to step onto it, and pursue a new life and a newly found way of living?