Nowadays, faith is commonly contrasted with knowledge, and construed as belief in propositions or theories that can't be 'proved'. Religious people use the concept in this way to reject what they see as rationalistic demands for argument and evidence. Religious sceptics employ the same concept in their rejection of what they see as groundless irrationality.
Though this concept of faith is widespread, as this week's readings make clear, it is not the biblical concept. In the episode from Genesis, and the reflection upon it in the Epistle to the Hebrews, we find an importantly different idea. Abraham’s faith related to the future. By the nature of the case, the future cannot be known since it hasn't yet happened! Nevertheless, our lives have to be built around this unknown. Faith about the future is not as abstract speculation on what might happen; it is the essential basis for our plans, careers, aspirations and adventures.
Faith properly so called, then, is in a different category to both belief and knowledge. It is allied to hope and trust -- and its contrary is not lack of evidence but fear. Fearful mistrust would have prevented Abraham from setting out, and would have stopped him from hoping for descendants, despite his age and difficulties. It was faith in God, not theological knowledge or belief about God, that guided and sustained him.
The author of Hebrews uses this as a model for a new generation, to help them see that with the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, a truly faith filled orientation to the future is enlarged. We can now set our hopes on a promised land far richer than a stretch of territory, and on belonging to a 'family' far greater than innumerable tribal descendants. Hebrews effectively echoes the words of Jesus in the Gospel passage from Luke - 'Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom'.
Faith in this promise implies a different attitude to the present -- one that focusses on the truly important (because 'Where your treasure is, there will you heart be also') and shows a constant readiness to respond to the call of Jesus (because 'Blessed are those slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes').
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
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