Sharables – Testimony
John Carter | Director of Finance & HR
I have lots of favorite passages in the Bible, but the one that I think without a doubt I can always fall back on is Hebrews 11:1. This is the passage that challenged my life, and it forced me to dig into the reality of who Jesus Christ is.
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
It is a simple passage with a lot of deep implications to consider. The two underlined words, to me, are the most significant aspects of this passage. What are the things we hope for, but cannot see? How do we determine the substance of that hope and by what evidence are we challenging our faith? It was through the deep thinking and processing of this passage that I asked myself, “What substance did I have, that would give me hope?”
That is not an easy question to answer right off the cuff? I mean there were several things I had tried to fill in the blank spot called substance for hope. You can fill in the blank! “My faith is based on _________________ (fill in the blank), This is what my hope in life is based on!”
The “blank” can be anything: money, job/career, family, friends, self, good deeds, church, religion, girlfriend/boyfriend, a prayer, baptism, church attendance. It can go on and on with things we put in place of Jesus Christ. I was a missionary kid in Japan for nearly 17 years. I grew up in the church and was very much a part of the religious entity call “the church.” I knew the rules, knew what to say, and how to act, had the list of “do” and “do not” down. I failed to find any substance in those things. One of the cool things about the book of Hebrews is that there is only one correct answer. You cannot have multiple right answers; you only get one! Take some time and reflect on what is the substance of your faith, is it Jesus Christ? There is nothing that will sustain your hope for the long run other than Jesus.
The second part of the passage talks about evidence. This evidence for me was a big deal! You might ask, Why? Well, when I was dealing with this passage, I was atheistic in my worldview, that means I openly claimed there was no God. I had abandoned the religion I had grown up with and decided that the opposite of religion must have more substance and evidence for a life of hope. I had a hard time believing in something that I could not see. Maybe, just maybe, you can relate to this struggle? It was not uncommon for me to speak of religion as a crutch, or a device created by the weak to deal with the harsh realities of life. I struggled with the aspect of there being evidence! I was able to understand that if there was evidence, and if there is substance to this “idea” called faith, then that would mean I could touch and feel it. It would be tangible. It forced me to look at what my faith, or lack of faith, had produced. I had to go through and analyze what substance I had that gave me hope. The lifestyle I had chosen had led to very little by which I could say I was hopeful. The devil has a way of enticing us with the short term; it only distracts us from dealing with the truth. In the short term, money, partying, women, all seemed sufficient to keep me full of hope. Then it was not enough! The party always came to an end, money never quite seemed to last, and the high never lasted. You always came down, and the lows were low, and the hangover almost always came the next day. We as humans have this innate ability to mask and numb our hopelessness with short-term fixes that do not fix anything.
When I share my story of how a came to know Jesus, I will, without hesitation, quote this passage. It does not matter which side of the proverbial aisle you come from, religious or irreligious, this passage can be a great passage to get you thinking. For me, I feel like I tried both ways. I lived for the longest time having prayed a prayer thinking that is all there was to it. I had my “fire insurance” so to speak, but no real evidence that I knew Christ personally. Church attendance, offerings, a magic prayer, and good deeds do not save you. I also tried the “do as I please” and disregarded the existence of God. Sin is a real thing, Hell is a real place, and God does exist. Just because we cannot see Him does not make Him anymore fake than the wind. Either lifestyle, religious or irreligious, leads to the same hopeless emptiness. There is only one way to have a hope that is both substantial and has the evidence of outlasting anything else, in fact, it is an eternal hope. If Jesus Christ is not the substance of your faith, let me encourage you to examine your faith, examine the evidence for Jesus Christ, and examine the substance in the Scripture for who He is.