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  • Writer's picturecatherine hutton

What it looks like to Believe in an Unseen God

Believing in an Unseen God

Hebrews 11:1-6

We say “I Believe” - but are these just some words we mutter like some sort of charm against unspecified ‘bad stuff’ in the world - or some inherited worldview to which we have ascribed?

The Apostles’ Creed is either a statement of profound and world-altering conviction or a liturgical piece of myth - holding grains of truth that describe the shape of things but ultimately without power.

As Paul writes his letter to the Hebrews, he writes about the nature and purpose of faith. Hebrews 11:1 is not a credal statement in its specifics, rather it is a definition of hope - a definition of promise and the purpose of God.

It is neither without teeth nor critical thought - it is courageous, outrageous and flies in the face of so called ‘enlightened’ thinking…

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance of what we do not see.

… ‘I believe in God, the Father, the Almighty. Creator of Heaven and Earth.’

I have confidence, says Paul, in the saving power of an unseen God and I have the assurance of that work within me - even though there is no process by which I can plot the ‘how of it happening’ to show you it on...

There is no chart to explain the mechanics of it to anyone who wishes to observe it from afar. Hope, Confidence and Action are the hallmarks of Faith by which it can be observed ... and yet, unless it has this fruit, or by-product - if we are still talking mechanical processes, it is mere lip service.

Believing in an unseen God means taking risks and trusting in a Salvation that is life-giving to all who come near.

It trusts to the transformation that God alone can bring through Jesus Christ, who is always the hope and who befuddles the expectations of the ‘laws’ of the world around us - we’ve killed you, Jesus - oh wait, no! There he is, in bodily form defying the laws of death.

Oh look there’s Jesus making lives good for people who aren’t allowed to be touched - transforming the world and transforming expectations…

For Paul though, he roots this in the history of the faith of the Hebrew People… THIS IS NOT NEW STUFF, he says, stridently, assuredly and forcibly as he takes them and us on a quick history tour which will form the bulk of Hebrews 11 & continues into chapter 12.

There are reminders of faith worked out...

You know who had confidence in what he hoped for? Abel - because he honoured God with his offering: Which you know… and you know who else? Enoch - whose courage in faith was so strong that he never even died … and it is Faith in God that causes us to step out in faith, beyond the words of “I believe” into the conviction that; “YES I DO BELIEVE”… and that conviction has consequences and the consequences are that in trusting God, we will follow into unknown territories, like Abraham and we will trust the promises of God like Sarah and give our all to the service of God because the confidence that comes from our hope is not passing or transient or reliant on things of the world…

This is another hard week. A month’s stay at home order will begin on Thursday.

Uncertainty and sickness, financial hardship looming and the threat of death lurking…

It is another hard week for those in positions of power and authority in the world … economics, human need, care and compassion are necessarily foremost in our minds…

And we are still praying that God will bring an end to the sickness. In the meantime, God gets involved - just like he always has and he calls his people to model his character:

Faith in God means living a life transformed by his love - ringing with the marks of kindness and grace, for making things better and bringing light and hope into the darkness of death and despair.

‘I believe’, means strapping on the assurance and trusting that the Wesleyan doctrine of ‘knowing that we are saved’ is more than a moment of “aha!” But  instead becomes a backbone-strengthening, decision-giving “and now…” as we step into the unknown, knowing that the confidence we have is in Christ alone and the hope we have is Salvation, that the salvation we have is a motivator and an energy-giver.

Seeking God will mean seeking the righteousness that comes from him and responding in a transformed manner…

I believe - must mean standing on the promises of God and living them out for the praise and glory of God’s name…

Not because we want the glory - I think this has started to be called ‘virtue signalling’ - look at me noticing and calling out the bad stuff, bad decisions, bad people, but instead to embody the salvation faith that comes from a deep and saved love for God in Christ that shows God’s own love for the world... NOT for our glory -

but because we want the glory of the transformation to show the love that God has for the world.

To say ‘I believe’ is inherently missional - a declaration of intent.

To say ‘I believe’ is inherently evangelistic.

- It is to announce the breaking in of hope through Jesus Christ our saviour and to turn the world around to look at him. To please God and transform the world through Jesus’ death and resurrection…

And that conviction of I Believe in an unseen God turned into action for the salvation of the world he loves is going to matter more than ever in the coming month.

How will you live your faith- sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see?


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