I have an employee who recently responded to me by saying…
“Just have faith.”
It was in response to a conversation that we were having about an upcoming deadline that we (together) had to meet… and our ducks were not yet in a row. He used the phrase in a colloquial sense, meaning, “Just assume or have the confidence that everything will be OK (as long as we think positively).”
Of course, this notion is utter nonsense. Nothing happens the way we want it to, just because we thought about it in positive terms. If that were the case, I would have already just thought positively… resulting in our ducks already being in a row, causing the deadline to have already been met. Well, it didn’t happen.
So much for… “Just have faith.”
My employee treated the word “faith” just as the world typically does, without any hint of it being handled as the author of the book of Hebrews handles the word (which I will get to in a moment). I label the worldly usage of the word faith as “google faith.” I call it that because when you google the word faith, we get the following two definitions…
1) “complete trust or confidence in someone or something”
2) “strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof”
In the Bible, faith certainly has the characteristic or quality of the first example given by Google… trust. When James spoke about faith, he used it in the “trust” sense…
James 2:1 (HCSB)
My brothers, do not show favoritism as you hold on to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.
You could easily substitute the word “trust” for “faith” in this verse and not undermine the meaning put forth by James.
Here’s another example, this time from Paul, where swapping these two words would also not threaten the intent of the passage…
2 Timothy 3:14-15 (HCSB)
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed. You know those who taught you, and you know that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
There are many more examples in the Bible where this could be done… Colossians 1:4 and 2:5, Philippians 3:9, Galatians 2:20 and 3:26, 1 Corinthians 15:17, etc.
The world, as my employee demonstrated, will use faith as a way of expressing trust, similar to how scripture does. However, the world’s brand of trust is different from the Biblical. It always presumes an element of a lack of evidence when speaking of faith.
Like the first definition above, my employee was encouraging me to have trust… fine. But, this encouragement also had the quality that the second definition has… an absence of authentication. In other words, as I eluded to earlier, my employee wanted me to be satisfied with having a blind trust in thinking positive (of which there is absolutely no evidence of it actually being a reliable source of the outcome that we want). This is exactly how the world characterizes faith, and when the world is faced with what the Christian intends to mean by faith, the world then twists it and accuses the Christian of instead having a blind faith… a strong belief based upon spiritual apprehension rather than proof.
But, this is not what is in view when the Bible uses the term faith…
When the Bible explicitly defines faith in the book of Hebrews, the brand in view is what I would characterize as “Hebrews faith.”
Here’s what the author of Hebrews writes…
Hebrews 11:1 (HCSB)
Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.
Notice how this is different from google faith. Google faith lacks proof, where Hebrews faith does not. Our faith, the Christian’s faith (Hebrews faith), is the REALITY of what is hoped for. The world’s faith is the FANTASY of what is hoped for. In other words, it is not we who have a blind faith, but it is the world that does.
Don’t be fooled by the world’s encouragement…
Instead, be grounded by scripture’s.
Godspeed, to the brethren!