“Faith” is a concept that may be vague to many people and it may be valuable to explain it more clearly. In order to accomplish this, I would like to introduce an analogy which I have considered for many years.
It is really interesting to look at ‘the relationship of us Christians to our Lord God; Jesus Christ’ and compare it to ‘the relationship between a companion dog and its Master’. There are some strong lessons we can learn from dogs and their behaviour. Indeed, we can apply some of these lessons to our understanding of our own Godly ‘faith’. Let me explain...
Let us first consider the definition of ‘faith’ in Hebrews 11: 1(NIV)
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
A well-trained animal that has been trained by using ‘positive-reinforcement' methods, will follow the commands of its master happily, diligently and efficiently…simply because it knows that it will get a reward in the end. In the case of a dog, these well-trained furry-friends will even go so far as to initiate action (like picking up an item off the floor for its owner, or bark, or do a trick) in the knowledge/belief that there is a biscuit or other reward at the end of the process. Their training gets to a point of total and absolute devotion. They become singularly loyal and will take a fall for their masters in the blink of an eye. In total faith, they will run through fire, endure the most dangerous of situations (eg taking people out of the Twin Towers, displaying loyalty at grave-sites, etc ) – because they have
total trust in their master’s plan!
I have had the privilege of experiencing this kind of devotion from an animal and consider it to be one of the most beautiful examples for us - of ‘absolute FAITH’ - by any non-human creature on this planet.
So, let’s look now at us human-beings. In the same way, if we believe and have total faith in our own Master, Jesus Christ, and if we follow His commands and trust Him completely, we too will be rewarded. Our rewards, however, may be delayed and we may only experience them in Heaven, once we leave this life. In contrast to the dog, however, we are challenged to a higher call. We are asked to have faith in eternal life and the promises of Jesus Christ. Many of these promises are ‘unseen’, but through faith, we are certain of their truth.
“I will put my laws on their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”
God Himself is faithful, and our trust in this fact serves to affirm our own faith:
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
Just as I have highlighted the faithfulness of some companion dogs, the author of Hebrews 11, (Paul and/or others), highlights various bible characters who have demonstrated great faith for us to learn from. These people have done things (demonstrated faith), in the knowledge of a Godly promise and their certain reward (even though this reward is an ‘after death’/eternal one). Here are a few examples:
1. Abel: by faith, offered a better sacrifice than Cain because of his ‘attitude’.
2. Enoch: by faith, was taken from this world and didn’t experience death. (Gen 5:25),
3. Noah; by faith built an ark and suffered the ridicule of his generation prior to the flood, and the promise of a brand new world.
4. Abraham (and Sarah): by faith, left his country into the ‘unknown’ in obedience to God – believing that God would make him the father of many descendants. In his old age, he continued to believe this too. Indeed, God granted him a son – Isaac – in Sarah’s old age. By faith, Abraham was willing to sacrifice his one and only son in obedience to God.
5. Joseph: by faith, spoke about the exodus from Egypt and gave instructions about his bones after his death.
6. Moses: by faith led the Israelites out of Egypt and instituted the Passover. He regarded disgrace for the sake of God as a greater reward than the treasures of Egypt. By faith, he turned his back on the Pharoah’s anger.
7. … and there are many, many more bible characters who are examples to us of incredible faith…
The message of Hebrews chapter 11 is simple:
“God has planned better things for us, that through Him, together with us, it would be made perfect.” (v40)
We merely need to trust and have faith.
God wants us to practice our faith, by demonstrating obedience to his commands…so that we, ultimately, will spend eternity by His side.
“Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:1-2)
What do I, by faith, want to accomplish this week?
This week, I want to focus on totally believing God’s promise to me:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29: 11)
I have, by faith, nearly completed my first year at Bible School. There were times, during the year, when I wanted to give up, but in my heart, I believed that this is what God wanted of me. God is my Master, and I believe that Bible school is the first step that he wanted me to take in his plan for me. I am still not clear on what direction He wants me to go next year, but I have faith that He will reveal it when His time is right... and use it for His ultimate glory
So, dear friends, what do YOU want to accomplish, by faith this week?
Everything on earth is accountable to a Master and there is a subtle hierarchy of command amongst all living creatures on this planet.
In Genesis 1:28, God commands man:
“Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
In other words, we have been appointed God’s ‘stewards’ of this earth for the creatures living on it. This is the reason that I feel I can present my chosen analogy of the dog and it’s Master for this particular blog post today.
God has made us accountable to Him for everything we do and don’t do. Our relationship with the creatures of His creation is pertinent to this accountability. He will judge us at the end times for these things. His creation is a precious thing.
Although we constantly fall short in our behaviour and our spirit towards these things, there is good news: God offers us a Saviour, a Mediator and a Counsellor in the form of his precious son, (our own earthly steward) Jesus Christ, who bears the brunt of our failures.
thank you for your beautiful creation.
Help us to be faithful to your message, your commands and your promise.
Please help us to develop our faith in You.