A little confession. First, apologies for not having blogged for a good week. Secondly, the reason is partially due to having had lack of inspiration, but also due to a request made by my friend Gail that I write on the subject of hope. Not because this is at all a bad thing, or that I write about it only grudgingly, but because I really don’t have much of an idea of what to say or how to go about it! Having left it a little long, then, I have decided it might be best for now to just run with it and see what comes out the top of my head. And I hope Gail will forgive me if this post isn’t especially long😉
1Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
2For by it the people of old received their commendation.
3By 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.
If the author of Hebrews is to be believed, then it would seem that faith is an event sequential from hope. One might be tempted to think of faith perhaps, as the confirmation of hope.
In this respect, faith is a form of hope. What we mean when we say we have “faith” is that we hope the things to which we have committed ourselves are indeed a genuine reflection of eternal truth. Something that also occured to me, is that the act of hoping is one which seeks to bring inner desire into external actuality. In abstract terms, I cannot “wish God into existence” if He does not actually exist, but of my conviction I feel that He does exist and intervenes in human history and my faith that He does is the result of that inner hope.
In his “Dynamics of Faith” (see my recommended reading section), Paul Tillich describes the act of faith as a cooperation of the objective and subjective portions of the human pysche. That is, in objectivity we are able to acknowledge the act of having faith, and this faith ought to be described as an investment into that which the person deems to be of “ultimate concern.” That is, a secularist may seen the sum total of humanity as his ultimate concern and invest his faith into that realm, whereas the religious person will make the transcendent reality his object of ultimate concern, and this realm is embodied in the being of God. So the process of investment is objective, and in tuning our self-awareness to the realm which is beyond direct perception is the working of our subjective psyche, which can only remain in the hope that the person articulating his faith is receiving the interpretive reflection of objective reality which is genuine.
Hope, in this regard, must necessarily be a part of faith. That is, it cannot truly be faith unless I doubt myself in measure, for to exist without doubt is either blind faith or else an act of knowing, and genuine faith can be neither. A very specific kind of hope also exists for the Christian, in that there is within our theological constructs the future event in which God will justify Her children in Christ, set the creation free from bondage, end suffering, and establish the Kingdom in fullness. So it is thus, that I place my hope in the past reality of Christ’s death and resurrection, as well as the future reality of the transformation of the world. My faith is the confirmation of this hope that God has given me, in which I sense Him at operation within my heart and in the world around me, to give reassurance that these hopes are indeed the reflection of objective reality, even though how I respond is rooted in the subjective.
In this sense, faith is also the hope for humanity, the hope that we do not simply exist in glorified chaos, slaves to our morality, and at the mercy of oppression and unspeakable kinds of evil in the world. Out of my hope that these abominable systems cannot last forever, I am given faith that there is a higher form of goodness far more powerful than the evil in this world, and that it will prevail victorious. In my hope, I perceive this goodness to be God.
And of course, we might see that we who are God’s children (those who have been adopted in Christ) are indeed Her hope as well. If I have faith that God will one day crush evil completely, then I must accept that God is in the process of bringing a desire into actuality, and that She is achieving this through interaction with those who have faith and ergo have the propensity to do good. In this two way dynamic of hope, I feel that the result is that of love, genuine love which does not discriminate, which embraces all, and which seeks the end of war, violence, division, and destruction. This love is the ultimate expression of divinity in humanity, and as such it is greater even than hope and love, as Paul himself said; but I also see that faith, hope, and love are all interconnected and each existing as the outworking of each other in a way that is difficult for me to articulate as of yet.
For now, I have no trouble saying that God is the hope for our world, and that we are the hope for God Himself.