You might be surprised by the answer. It’s not the greatest commandment or the second. It is something you and I must have to please God. What is it?
“Without faith it is impossible to please God…” -Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)
With startling clarity the author of the book to the Hebrews defines smething you must have in order to please God. It is not great accomplishments; it is not great sacrifice; it is Faith.
Look what he writes next:
“… Because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)
OK, the logic of this seems simple. It only makes sense the only way for you to come to God is to believe that He exists.On top of believing His existence you need to believe there is a reward in seeking Him.
My daughters love me. Probably because they are both still at least eight years away from being teens. When I come home, they run to me and hug me. My daughters believe in my existence and that I bring fun.
Why does God ask faith of us?
That’s kind of how it is with God. But why does God ask faith of us? My daughters see and hug me. I can neither see nor hug God.
Let’s back up a few verses in Hebrews Chapter 11:
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)
Faith is confidence and assurance…. in what we cannot see! That’s hard, but perhaps it is meant to strengthen.
Internal motivation is vital
Every elementary school teacher knows the difference between external and internal motivation. If you promise the kids snacks, you can get them to do their work for a little bit. But, the key to a successful student is getting them to be internally motivated about learning. You cannot always bribe them to get what you want.
Perhaps this internal framework is what God is going for. Perhaps God wants us to develop our thinking and heart strength to trust when we cannot see.
“This is what the ancients were commended for.” Hebrews 11:2 (NIV)
When you look through the list of men and women in the 11th chapter of Hebrews you see some extraordinary people. You see leaders of countries and people who accomplished great things for God. Most of these people lived with little interaction from God.
The Bible sometimes deceives us.
There are sometimes when we look at the stories of the Bible that we are deceived. We see stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob sandwiched together. We see stories of God speaking to people, one story after another.
The deception is when miss the years in between God moments.
We must realize that the Bible often does not record the details of mundane years. Every one of the great men and women of the Bible experienced times in their lives when they had to hold on by faith to what they knew. Sometimes for decades.
I think that God throughout the Bible and history is looking for men and women with the strength to trust him. In fact he speaks highly of those were willing to trust in him.
You might ask,
“Is God asking me to hide my doubts and just blindly trust?”
No, I really don’t think so. Here’s two thoughts:
- Jesus did not condemn doubters, he condemned hypocritical leaders. Remember the story of Thomas in John 20? Jesus didn’t condemn Thomas for doubting. He blasted the religious leaders for hypocrisy though.
- The Bible is packed with detailed accounts.
Without question the Bible is the most significant and well attested historical document in history.
The authors in the Bible were very concerned with recording detailed accounts of what happened so we could have reasoned answers. That’s why John wrote the gospel he did and why Luke penned his books.
Faith is vital. It is something that strengthens and stretches. It is not meant to be grasped blindly. Instead, it should be rooted in the character of God. It should find its future in the promise of God.
Join me as I learn to live trusting God.