- Eldon Peterson
What does it mean to walk by faith?
Maybe you are familiar with 2 Corinthians 5:6-7 that says, "So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight" What would you say to someone who told you, “I would like to walk by faith if only I knew where it would take me!” We may smile at the irony of such a statement, but I think that it resonates with most of us. We fully know that the right answer for the Christian is to walk full of faith, looking to God rather than circumstances. And yet…
So, “What does it mean to walk by faith?” To answer this question, we must first define faith, or at least define what we are to put our faith in. For the Christian, the answer is clear; we are to put our faith in Christ alone who is the foundation for our lives. Hebrews 11 helps us by offering two important thoughts about faith.
First, Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.” Faith is the reality, the assurance, the confidence of what we hope for. Faith is not merely wishful thinking, it is rooted in something real. Knowing this allows us to stand firm in the face of doubt because our faith is not a blind faith but a reasoned faith, one rooted in proof.
Some struggle to walk in faith because they are suspicious that what they are trusting in may not hold water. If that’s you, then your reluctance to walk by faith is understandable because what you see is more real. However, the other option is seek out the God of the Bible by looking to Christ. In Him you will find a faith based in reality and proof.
The second thought from Hebrews 11 is, “Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.” (6) This verse answers a question we might not think to ask. We cannot walk in faith without believing that God exists, hears our prayers and cares for us. And if we believe, then why would we not trust in Him?
Certainly people will offer a variety of reasons for not trusting God, but I wonder if their reasons are reasonable. Do their reasons offer a true reflection of who the God of scripture is or are they strawman arguments that fail to hold up under examination. The God of Scripture is holy and righteous but also loving, merciful and just. Too often a false image of God is projected to justify one’s lack of faith. Therefore, the one who walks by faith believes God exists and that He rewards those who seek after him.
If it is that simple, what keeps us from walking in faith? Trusting in ourselves more than God! I know it sounds sacrilegious but what other explanation can we offer. My sin is always due to my trusting in self rather than God. Rather than trusting in Him, I have placed my hope in what I can see or touch or feel. In your experience, which has proven to be truer? God’s Word or your feelings?
I therefore choose to place my trust in God who never fails or lets me down. Not in a god of my own making, but in the great God who loves us unconditionally, “God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:8) Such selfless love is what we all long to know. I realize that many have been hurt by false religious beliefs thereby making them suspicious of those preaching Christ or truth. But if that describes you, I suggest that maybe you owe it to yourself to look afresh to who Christ is and consider His words.
Not the words of a church or organization, but consider the words of Christ. It is Christ’s words of truth that give a confident hope. What is faith? St Augustine said, “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” Walking by faith can only be done realizing that God is greater than you. Will you trust in Him? Will you read His word? If so, I think you’ll find walking by faith is easy!