Maybe someday we will understand how God connects with salmon and butterflies. From our perspective, His connection with them seems built-in, automatic. But the connection between God and humans is conditional. It depends upon our being in the right condition. You’ve seen the thriller movie scenes in which the guy in the airport tower is frantically calling to the pilot of an airplane but can’t get through? That’s a conditional communication; the airplane radio must be set on the right channel and be in good working order or the communication doesn’t get through.
But what is the necessary condition for communication with God? God has designed our interaction with Him to depend on faith. Think of all the other conditions He could have chosen. He could have given us radios that we needed to set on the right channel. He could have required us to bring burnt offerings. We could have been required to follow His tweets. But God chose faith. Interesting… Why faith? The answer begins by considering what faith is.
The essence of faith is solid belief that exists in the absence of tangible proof. The Bible says it like this:
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)
(By the way, the word “hope” in that sentence did not mean wishful thinking, it means a confident expectation. It’s not like, “I hope it doesn’t rain on Thursday,” but like our “hope” that Summer will follow Spring.)
If you think about it, if what you believe is true, then faith frees you from the cumbersome process of seeking proof. When you walk in the dark in an unfamiliar place, every step must be tentative until you know you have solid footing. But when you walk in the dark in your home, walking by faith that your home is unchanged from when you turned out the lights, then your steps are freer and more fluid. Scientific measurement methods, by contrast, are necessarily tedious and plodding, designed to help us feel our way in the dark and they work well for that. But they don’t work well for an activity that is done with spontaneity, like dancing. Dancing is done by faith. And so is talking with God.
God designed us to communicate with Him, not on the basis of touch or sight or measurement, but on the basis of faith. The more I consider His design choice, the better it seems. Can you imagine how suffocating it would be to a relationship if you had to stop and measure how much you loved each other several times a day? Do you remember how cool it was when you didn’t need training wheels? We are meant to swoop and glide when we communicate with God, not wobble along in tentative fear.
Without faith, we are not in touch with God. We are left to our own devices and guesses. Adam and Eve discovered that in the Garden of Eden. When they stopped trusting in God, they were left wandering in the dark. When Jesus came, it was to restore our connection with God.
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:28-29
To believe in Jesus is also to believe God loves us. Faith is sure of that. To believe in Jesus is to believe God will forgive us our many sins, that Jesus willingly paid with His life to settle our accounts. Faith nails that down. More than that, faith opens up our communication and relationship with God. Wow!
When I dish out caramel fudge ice cream, my scoop seeks out the mother-lode veins of gooey, rich, stuff that clusters in the middle. When it comes to faith in the Bible, one of the gooey, rich, mother-lode veins is found in the 11th chapter of Hebrews. You saw the first verse quoted above. Most of the rest of that chapter is a Hall of Fame listing of great acts of faith. But there is something else, too, something surprising and thought provoking.