Today’s New Testament reading is Hebrews 11.
Have you ever thought about how incredibly unnatural and unusual our Christian faith is? I mean, if you step back and think about it, we Christians are down right strange. What is it that makes our weird life seem so perfectly normal and obvious to us? Hebrews 11 says, faith.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”
Hebrews 11:1–3 ESV
We are sure of things we have not seen. In our secular age, that in itself is strange. Yet, generation after generation we find Jesus’ church boldly proclaiming a God they cannot see to a world who cannot see him. We submit to the authority of a King we cannot see. That is even more strange! Yet, through the testimony of Jesus’ finished work, we see people begin to believe and bow before King Jesus. God uses the gospel to shine the light of his glory into our hearts (2 Cor 4:1-6) and gives us a supernatural ability to believe him (Eph 2:8). This is the essence of faith. A God given, settled conviction, that while we can only see the things that are created, there is an invisible reality behind them. This isn’t to say that there is no rationale for believing, but faith is not the end of our convictions, it is the source. We’ll dive into that idea more another time. For now, my point is this: We are a people who, by God’s gift of grace, believe in an invisible God who created all things. That’s strange.
And as we said, Christianity isn’t just a strange way of thinking or believing. It is a strange way of living! If you read all of Hebrews 11 (please do!), you’ll find testimony after testimony of people who lived strange lives because they believed God. We are, after all, “a peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9). We live lives to bring glory and honor to God. That is a peculiar way of living compared to our culture.
Of course, using words like “strange” and “peculiar” may sound like a negative to some of you. I certainly don’t mean it that way. I’m just saying that we are called to contrast the the culture by our way of life because of our faith. Since Abraham, God has been promising to set apart a people for himself. And this book of Hebrews has already proclaimed so beautifully what a great work Jesus did to bring us to himself! He has remade our hearts. We are now a people who believe his promises and obey his commands. A people who imperfectly show a little glimpse of his Kingdom through our lives. What a wonderful calling!
If you consider yourself a child of God, I want to encourage you this morning to exercise that gift of faith you have. Your hope is in a God who has proven himself faithful. He has done this, not only by faithfuly sustaining his people, but by sending his Son. Embrace the oddness of your faith and invite others to join you. We Christians are at our worst when we try to keep one foot in God’s way and one fit in the world. Go all in with being weirdly loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self controlled as you depend of Christ to work his fruit into your life. In this, you will shine like a light in a dark world by faith.
Stay strange my friends.