Faith vs. Belief

I’ve been reading through Hebrews lately and there was one idea out of all of the chapters that jumped out at me this time around: faith.

While that’s not to hard to see why since there’s a whole chapter and more devoted to the topic, I got a glimpse of a new perspective and understanding this time around.

Hebrews 11 opens with the lines:

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd. By faith, we see the world called into existence by God’s word, what we see created by what we don’t see. (Hebrews 11:1-3, MSG)

The metaphor of vision, seeing, and experiencing really grabbed me this time. I started to think about things we see and don’t see and how that affects our belief—whether in God or in every day circumstances. I turned over and over again in my mind the idea that faith is not just verbalizing belief, it’s more than that but it was hard to really put into words what was stirring.

Until this simple phrase hit me: faith is believing in what is not yet but acting as though it already is.

Faith is believing in what is not yet but acting as though it already is.

Think about that for a second. Because belief is a conscious, but passive, understanding of something. You can believe in something that is not yet. I can believe that the earth is going to rotate and the sun is going to rise in the east tomorrow to start my day. I can believe that I will one day be promoted to a higher position in my company. I can believe that I will marry a beautiful woman and love her all my days on this earth. But the reality is, none of these things are able to be seen at this time. I can believe they are true, but that’s not faith.

Faith is belief put in action.

Faith is believing in what is not yet but acting as though it already is.

Let me be clear: faith is not blind belief. Just because you act does not mean what you believe will come true—especially when it comes to Bible. The “I Can Think It; It Will Happen” mindset has no place in Christianity. Your faith is influenced by your belief. Therefore, what you are being fed (beliefs) will influence your actions (faith).

This is why it is critically important to line up your beliefs with what Scripture teaches, and it is why the author of Hebrews goes on to give examples of what faith looks like in Chapter 11. If you look at all the “By faith…” examples in the chapter, they are followed by action. It is not, “Abraham believed in God and tried to get clarity on what exactly God was trying to say.” It was, “By faith, Abraham did this, that and the other.” Faith caused action not further introspection.

Faith always leads to action otherwise it’s just a belief.

Belief is not bad. In fact, belief is the primary starting point of faith, but the purpose of belief is to lead you to action.

The scary part of faith is that we end up acting on things that haven’t come to pass yet. We don’t know how they will turn out. We don’t know what will happen. The fear of the “not yet” can paralyze our faith. Fortunately, we have a God who “already is.” He knows how everything is going to play out, turn out, and happen in every situation. So our belief in something that is not yet can be confirmed by a God who knows it already is. No longer do we have to fear what could be because we have a God who has already seen it. He stretches our beliefs causing us to act—from passive to action. Because faith proves belief.

So, instead of just believing the sun will come up tomorrow, faith sets an alarm that will wake me up so I can go to the gym and work out so I can see the sun come up. Faith works hard every day at my job to learn everything I can, be the best at what I am doing, and invest in those who work around me to make everyone better because I know that is what it takes to get better. Faith calls girls and asks them out on dates, filters what I allow in my mind, and risks relationships by putting myself out there because people are worth it.

Because faith is believing in what is not yet but acting as though it already is.

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