God’s way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: “The person in right standing before God by trusting God really lives.” (Romans 1.17; The Message)
It’s rather curious that the only thing God requires for us to experience new life—belief—is also the most elusive thing we will ever attempt. Scripture does a fine job of defining faith. Most famous, of course, is Hebrews 11.1, which tells us faith is what we hope for when there’s no visible proof that God is actively at work in our lives. Both Old and New Testaments present us with dozens upon dozens of stories of heroic faith in action, and not a few case studies of failed faith, so we can see the difference between belief and disbelief. Wanting the new life God promises us automatically brings with it the desire to believe. Given Scripture’s clear-cut teaching of what faith is and its myriad examples of how it works, one would think faith should come easily to us. But it doesn’t. When we need our faith to kick in, principles we’ve learned and biblical role models we’ve admired grow dim in the shadows of circumstances we can only overcome by faith. We need help if we’re to get faith right.
Romans 1.17 says we discover how to get faith right by observing “acts of faith.” In part, it refers to faith feats we read about in the sacred texts. But it does something very interesting when it introduces a statement found in the prophet, Habakkuk: “Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them, but the righteous live by their faith.” (Habakkuk 2.4) Look becomes the operative word. Finding faith isn’t confined to what we discover in the Bible’s pages. Faith happens all around us, all the time. We see it in the mother who sends her children to school with full confidence God’s protection goes with them. We see it in the gardener who plants bulbs on a spring day, fully expecting a riot of beautiful colors will rise out of the cold ground. We see it in the eyes of pets that wake us, knowing we never fail to feed their morning hunger. Our days overflow with instances of faith in action. Hardly a moment passes but what God doesn’t present us with pictures that prove the ineffable connection between trust and life. Now Hebrews 11.1 starts to make real sense. Faith does indeed begin with what we hope for. But the new and sustained life it promises is hardly unseen. It’s evident everywhere we look. God is at work in our lives. We just have to train our eyes to recognize what we’re looking at.