Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
The book of Hebrews is a later book in the New Testament. It’s focus is to address Christians from a Jewish background and help them stay the course in their new commitments to be followers of Jesus. Tensions were high and the cost of discipleship could include alienation from family and neighbors, imprisonment, or even death. It was easy to give up and simply try to blend in with more ordinary people – just try to look normal and not stand out.
Into this environment, the author of Hebrews wants people to hear words of encouragement and hope. Don’t stop believing that Jesus is the one. Don’t give up on the newfound faith that is yours. Cling to the truth that Jesus is the one who brings life and that believing this is the most important thing.
In our modern era, we have inherited a definition of faith that is centered in content. Do we believe the right things? Do we understand the right ideas? Do we have the facts right? All of these can be useful at some level. But they are not the Bible’s primary concern.
The Bible was written and assembled to help people believe that Jesus was the one in whom they could place their trust. Details about Jesus’ life were shared, not to get you to know the facts, but as pointers to get you to believe the big thing – Jesus is Lord. With that kind of faith, lives were being changed. People without hope who were longing for a different kind of world than the one in which they lived received a promise. Jesus is ushering in the Reign of God. The world is changing. And the just and peaceful world for which you long will one day arrive. Faith is the assurance of things hope for; the conviction of things not seen.
There are a lot of divisions in the Christian community today. Most of them have to do with (dis)agreement about history, theology and details. A lot of people have a lot invested in keeping us divided – it protects their status as leaders and experts in their little world. But the Bible’s basic message should bring us all together. In Jesus, God is doing something amazing and the world for which we all long is coming. The hopes you have are justified and real. Maybe you can’t see it yet, but believe. Salvation is on its way.