Summary: Faith is something that sets the Christian apart from the world. The Christian believes in a God unseen. The Christian believes differently from the world. The people of the world don't think in terms of belief.
"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible."
Faith is something that sets the Christian apart from the world. The Christian believes in a God unseen. The Christian believes differently from the world. The people of the world don't think in terms of belief. They consider the views of the Christian faith to be foolish, weird, or irrelevant. Additionally they may call it backwards, or anachronistic. Faith can seem like a mystery. Many speak of blind faith. There are certain aspects of faith that could be considered "blind." Still others speak of intelligent faith, or faith grounded in facts, science, and observation. There are aspects of faith that are centered on inquiry and knowledge as well. Faith is incredibly multifaceted.
Why is faith so important to the Christian worldview? Isn't it just because Christians believe in things that aren't really real? Aren't they way out on a limb believing things contrary to reality? It may seem that way on the surface, but I believe quite the contrary.
The mean spirited skeptic has a jeer for every aspect of the Christian worldview. Jeering is a dismissive way of turning aside arguments I think. But jeering is common enough. Just log on to the internet.
The first fact that must be accepted is that the Christian worldview asserts that reality is currently damaged, tangent, and heading toward a moment of destruction, a sort of coup de grace, followed by a remaking to the proper state of reality, the universe, and human life. This is the reason that God's presence and will is not easily discerned.
Second, physical death is not the final end of man. The people of the world decry physical death as the paramount evil, through war, genocide, disease, famine, and such, and lay those evils at God's feet. Yet the Christian worldview asserts the reality that physical death is not the end, but simply a transition.
The third fact is of paramount importance, asserting that humanity, every human being, is born disconnected from God. The human is born in the image of God, though troubled by a state of general disconnection and a tendency toward sinful behavior (behavior contrary to moral perfection).
The natural state of the universe, humanity, Earth, and God is that of perfection in connection. In the correct and proper state of man there is no death. In the proper state of reality God is ever-present to every human being, in joyous connection to him or her. In the proper state of reality humanity, made in the image of God has no need for sin, or selfishness, or morbid fear, or self service. There is a general state of creative happiness, connection, love, and prevailing joyousness.
The current state of the universe is what theologians call "fallen." I like the word "tangent." People have heard the words "fallen" "sin" and "repent" so many times they tend to shut down when words like that come up. The mind slams shut, and jeers starts shooting out of the mouth. I wonder why that is? Perhaps past trouble with "religious people." Anyway.
In the tangent universe, on Earth, we have death, destruction, wars, genocides, warring ideologies, multiple religions, depression, addiction, suicide, and so many other terrible little wonders of the fallen. In this tangent we also have a state of reality theologians call "the hiddenness of God." After the fall of man, God is shaded, he's more "behind the clouds." The first humans did live in his real direct presence, but we do not.
"Aha! How convenient for you backwards homophobic Christians that we can't see your imaginary God! Ha ha!" Might a jeering atheist or sneering college professor say such a thing? I've heard worse. Now if Earth were pretty much perfect and things are well, there's no death, and humanity were the picture of selflessness and joy, I would probably agree. But that is not the case. Earth is a very ugly place, despite sociologists and modernists who seem to live in a little bubble in suburbia claiming: "Everything is getting better! We've overcome the flaws of the past!" Perhaps they ought to visit India or China, read a few books on human trafficking, or take a stroll down to the excesses of Wall Street? The Earth is in strife, mounted by the corrupt for their own power, wealth, and prestige.
"There are more slaves today than were seized from Africa in four centuries of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In fact, there are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in human history, with an estimated 21 million in bondage across the globe." -The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission ERLC, The Weekly, on Human Trafficking