Among the popular words in the spiritual aspect, faith comes at the top of the list. The term itself is pregnant with several meanings, some of which are very condescending. For example, according to the writer and humorist Mark Twain: “faith is believing what you know ain’t so.” That is, believing something you really have no good reasons to do so. Similar view was also proposed by the retired zoologist Richard Dawkins, that faith is a “process of non-thinking” and “arguably a form of mental torture” (The God Delusion, 2006). This kind of faith however is blind, if not destructive.
On the other hand, faith in Jesus is the hallmark of Christianity, that without which Christianity will never last. For instance, as I’m currently navigating through the gospel according to Matthew, we will find again and again that Jesus takes people always in accordance with their faith, that is, faith in Him.
To give some examples, consider the response of Jesus when confronted by the faith of a centurion, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed” (8:13). That is, the centurion’s servant was healed in result of the centurion’s faith. The following chapter also recorded an event where a paralytic was healed because of the faith of his friends. “Jesus saw their faith” and immediately rewarded it. The same chapter also recorded an event about “a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years.” In honoring her faith with the Father’s heart, Jesus confronted her by saying: “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well” (9:20-22). Another one is when two blind men went to Jesus for healing, He asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” And their reply was without any hesitation. In result, Jesus “touched their eyes, saying, ‘According to your faith be it done to you. And their eyes were opened’” (vv. 28-29). In contrast, Matthew also recorded that Jesus “did not do many mighty works” in Nazareth, “because of their unbelief” (13:28). In short, one cannot remove faith as a vital aspect in the Christian walk.
Contrary to the blind version of faith by Twain and Dawkins, the Bible defines faith (pistis) as a trust. To hold on, and to be persuaded upon that which you have good reasons to. And you don’t do it by abandoning your mind. In fact, Jesus talks about loving God will all our minds (Mt. 22:37; Mk. 12:30; Lk. 20:27).
Now to go back with the idea of trust, faith in God means trusting God. This however does not necessarily mean that you must have it all figured out. Far from it. Rather, it means trusting God who got it all figured out. “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Heb. 11:8). Abraham, of course, was far from being retarded. Why? Because he knew God and that is enough for him to keep going. This is also true for us in our experience. We trusted our parents when they brought us to the dentist back when we were young. Although we already have the idea of pain, but that didn’t hinder us to keep moving because we know them. We know that they love us and will never fool us. The same trust goes to God. And the author of the book Hebrews wrote that without faith it is impossible to please God. Just like it is impossible for us to please our parents when we doubt their character and provision. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (11:1).
And as I sought to know more about the subject of faith, the Bible on the other hand is packed with several stories of people marked out by their faith in God. For instance, when God told Moses to send twelve men to spy out the land of Canaan (i.e., their Promise Land), only the two among the twelve whose names were documented – Joshua and Caleb. Why? Because they were the only ones among the twelve who acted in faith, while the rest are forgotten (c.f., Num. 13-14). Hebrews 11 is an enriching chapter that reminds us that we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses – people who lived a life of faith. In short, people will leave a legacy when they walk, live, and act by faith.
So, are we blind in following Jesus? Not at all. In fact, it’s the otherwise. That is, trusting in Jesus is the most reasonable thing we can do – to trust Him who got it all figured out, when figuring it all out is none of our options. Thus, contrary to the biblical definition of faith, the kind of faith that is blind is nothing short of being condemnable.
And to remind us how God delights in us when we walk by faith, consider this quote from John Piper (which I pasted on my wall):
God loves to steer a moving ship. If you are tied up in the harbor of comfort and leisure, God ordinarily will not give you clear direction. He gives direction to captains who point their ship out of the harbor, into the storm.
Thus, the hallmark of Christianity is nothing less than our faith in Jesus, and without which we are left with nothing but a cheap sentiment.