Defining Faith

What is faith? 

The dictionary has ‘faith’ defined as “a complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” More specifically, it means “a strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.” That seems like a simple concept to grasp, but with one slight hiccup: faith exists, by definition, in absence of concrete proof. Fortunately for us, the Bible provides some insight into the definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen.” That really clears it up, doesn’t it?

By the looks of Hebrews 11:1, faith has a lot to do with “things unseen” and “spiritual apprehension” and other vague, floaty ideas not remotely concrete. In fact, the idea of faith is this: the unwavering trust in a God and conviction in a truth that we cannot explicitly prove.

The proof that faith is lacking, you might say, is in the beauty of nature or in the love of others; it’s found in prayer meetings and churches, and sunsets and breathtaking mountain scenery. But emotions plus beauty plus nature doesn’t equal God, rather it supports the belief in God. But God is so much more. You can agree with the fact that Jesus lived, but faith is both the knowledge of facts and the conviction that they are true—and resulting reliance on them. Lack of proof doesn’t mean that we can’t confidently declare that God exists, beyond a shadow of a doubt—I mean that we do so by faith and not by tangible evidence.

As a result, building a faith life with the idea that the belief in God can be categorized, organized, and fit into rational little boxes crumbles apart because faith isn’t rational. To believe wholeheartedly in something with not a whole lot of proof presented, is not a rational thought. As the Christian singers of Hillsong United wisely point out, “Faith makes a fool of what makes sense.” For the same reason, faithful makes you dependant on Another. Faith, according to my favorite definition, is leaning so hard on God that if He wasn’t there you would fall flat on your face. Faith requires a certain amount of sacrifice; it requires us to be dependent on God and not only merely ourselves. 

Image via Sara Tasker