This Sunday, the writer of Hebrews will remind us that “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” I have read, and have heard it read, countless times. Those words come alive in unimaginable ways, and I want to use this week, and next, to share some thoughts about faith - but more so about the Christian’s treasure, which is a liberated faith.
A Christian’s treasure is a liberated faith in God’s future. It is a faith that is so free it sees no limitations in its attempt to be committed to the discerned purposes of God. The Christian’s treasure is a liberated faith that moves mountains because it is grounded in the abiding hope of the God who invites us into His life. It is a liberated faith that makes possible all that was thought to be impossible. A liberated faith sees the upside of human convictions; it takes a step into the future not knowing what can happen, but yet feels unbelievably liberated and amazingly free to take that step into the future with God. A liberated faith is one that thrives on the assurance of things unseen, and because it believes in the possibilities of God’s future, that faith builds up a storehouse full of treasure that neither thief can steal nor moth can destroy.
I may not have told you the following story about me before, but when I first arrived in the United States, it was the middle of wintertime, and I was wearing a pair of sandals. I remember arriving at BWI airport, amazed at the beauty of the airport and by the snow, and wondering what was going on. Later in the day, my friend took me to a Chinese buffet restaurant. It was my first time ever at a buffet. He simply asked me to eat whatever I wished. I was a little hesitant, never having been to a buffet before.
After eating - and eating more - all sorts of food, he asked that I try some ice cream. He again said that I could have as much as I wanted. After every round of ice cream, he would ask me to have some more, and then I would ask the same question. Keep in mind, dear reader, that it was in the middle of winter, and while we ate I had forgotten where I was. After we were finished, we got up to go home. The instant I stepped outside that door, I quickly had to run back into the restaurant. I had never felt such cold in my entire life!
A liberated faith is like being at a buffet restaurant and asking about limits to what you can eat. But you are repeatedly reminded that you are free to eat as much as you want in so far as you have the stomach for it. That is liberating; it is freeing. At the buffet, you only wonder which food to eat, what to do with all this stuff. You feel overwhelmed by the abundance. It is the same with feeling the presence of God.
There are no limitations - you feed on God’s abundance, abide in God’s presence for as long as you have the stomach for it, and your heart can rest easy because you can look into that treasured future with God.
A liberated faith isn’t about a formal assent to the doctrine of the church, nor is it one that compels you to participate in the church’s faith, it is one that takes us personally captive - the love that refuses to let you go, if I may add. It sets you free, for as Jesus said, I came that you might be free and be free indeed - your treasure is the liberated faith that moves you to hope in the future of God.
And because you do not know when this future will come to pass, you stay awake. You don’t grow weary either in waiting or in doing good; you live not in anxiety but in anticipation. You live not in fear but in love... the love of all creation.
That is not to suggest that we will not be anxious. We are reminded that we shouldn’t be anxious or worry about anything. Read Matthew 6:25-32. A part says: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” No, we cannot!! That is precisely why faith is so important in our lives, for it is only a liberated faith that feels the need not to worry in the face of all the trials and temptations that he or she may endure.
I have no doubt that you are a person of faith and that your faith means more to you than I can ever imagine. But my question is, to what extent does your faith stack up? Is it a faith that is under a constant strain because its moorings are weak, or one which feels liberated? Is it a faith that is grounded and rooted in Christ, or one that is like a feather flying by itself with no sense of direction?
At any point in our lives, we get tested. Whether we like it or not, whether we anticipate it or not, or whether we are ready or not, we get tested. My attitude has never been about the temptation itself; it has always been about whether I feel liberated enough to overcome any temptation. Do you feel your faith as being liberated?
Faith is a powerful resource, and one that is anchored in Christ is one that has been liberated to offer hope and a sense of direction, and to offer itself as a sacrifice.
My desire is for you to be a person of faith - one with a liberated faith.