I’ve been thinking about faith as a verb lately. Certainly faith in its noun form is something I have and that defines the parameters that assist me in navigating how I live my life. Faith must also be something I do. Merely thinking about faith doesn’t move mountains. (James 2:17) It takes acting in faith, walking in the confidence that God is who he says he is and completely trusting that he can accomplish mighty things through those who are obedient and faithful.
The Bible frequently mentions the faith of Abraham. Hebrews 11 sums up the Old Testament account in Genesis 22 of Abraham’s willingness to offer his only son, Isaac, as a sacrifice in obedience to God. The Israelities were continually tempted to follow the practices of the surrounding religions which included the abominable practice of child sacrifice, so it seems quite strange that Abraham was willing to follow God’s seemingly absurd command, given that God continually commanded his people to be set apart from the temptations of surrounding peoples. But he obeyed despite the peculiar nature of the request. His obedience was not out of fear of punishment, but from an assurance of faith, knowing that God’s plans were much more important than his own. His faith was a verb. Had his faith remained a noun, he could have been content to remain comfortable thinking and dwelling on his faith rather that acting and moving in faith. Abraham also relied on God’s track record. This was the same God who gave him a son when he was such an old man, staying true to His word. This is why his faith has been celebrated for centuries and will continue to be praised until the end of time. His faith vehenmently protected a religious identity to ensure that Israel would be the instrument of God’s grace in bringing salvation for the entire world.
I’ve only been a father for less than two weeks. I’ve known my son Elliott for a very short time in comparison to Abraham’s relationship with Isaac. Genesis tells us that Isaac was a young man at the time of testing so it is logical to conclude that they potentially had a very significant father/son bond by this time. I find it extremely difficulty to imagine having the faith to walk my son up a mountain with the full intention of sacrificing him on an altar, no matter his age.
But I do not feel this is a reason to feel bad about myself. I believe the emotions we feel towards our children is a God-given glimpse of his affections for us. However, it reveals to me a desire for a deeper faith.
Since we are looking at faith as a verb, I believe it is something that can be practiced and learned as we grow. The example of such strong faith is given so that we may strive towards a faith that is greater than what we have currently. And Hebrews 11 give us such wonderful examples of people acting “by faith.”
At the end of my time on earth, there may not be an excerpt in a famous book about the ways I acted by faith. But I hope and pray that when I see the Lord face to face that I can be confident in the fact that I did everything I could to follow Him obediently by faith, to lead my family in faith and to impact my surrounding community with the knowledge of saving faith by expressing that faith in a loving, compassionate way.
Boy, it takes faith to be a parent. I’ve learned that already.