Summary: Having faith isn’t about expecting something back in return, not in this life anyway


I don’t have cable TV or a satellite dish. Several years ago I came to the conclusion that it was pointless to pay fifty dollars a month for two-hundred channels and still find nothing worthwhile to watch on TV. I cancelled the satellite subscription.

We live out in the sticks so our “air” TV reception isn’t so good. I never bothered putting up a TV antenna so we were able to receive only one channel, a major network, since the satellite was pulled. I figured that if there was nothing to watch on a TV with two hundred channels, it would be just as easy to watch it on a TV with one channel. If the end of the world came and the one network we could watch didn’t broadcast it, we would miss it entirely.

Sometime last year I picked up a second hand rooftop antenna at a garage sale. A few weeks ago I finally got around to putting it up. I’m proud to announce that the Spillman family now receives the same network channel we’ve always had, the other two major networks (poorly), public television (pretty good), and the local Christian station.

I’ve never been a fan of Christian TV. Most of it is just too icky for me. I never could get past all the big hair and crying and self-serving money-begging in the name of God. It hurt my heart, so I didn’t watch it.

Now I have a confession to make. I’ve been sneaking some peeks lately. A lot of the icky stuff is still there, probably more than before, but now some good stuff gets through. I don’t know if Christian TV has changed or if it’s me that’s changed. All I know is that in the midst of all the icky stuff, some good stuff gets through.

With that defense noted, I’ll get back to the icky stuff. I was watching a talk show on the Christian TV channel. It was really just a dialog between two guys, sitting at a table, drinking coffee; the set was fixed up to look like someone’s kitchen, complete with big picture window.

One of the guys was a famous “faith” teacher. His guest was a businessman and they were discussing “faith.” How God has all this great stuff for us and how we can have anything we want if we just believe we can get it and say the right words. The “faith” expert kept saying that “faith” wasn’t about getting money. He kept saying that “faith” was about way more than just money and that getting rich was only a minor benefit, kind of a side-effect of having “faith.”

But something about the guy just wasn’t ringing true. Even though he kept saying that “faith” wasn’t about money, you could see that everything about the guy was saying that he believed “faith” really was about the money. Because he had “faith” God gave him a big car and a big house and a private jet and a real expensive gold watch - but those were just side-effects; having “faith” was way more important that all that stuff.

It made me wonder … even though “faith” wasn’t about the money … if the guy suddenly lost his TV show, his bank account, his house, his car, his private jet and his gold watch, if he would still be telling folks about “faith”?

That got me thinking about what “faith” might mean from God’s point of view. After all, when we talk about “faith” we’re talking about an interaction with God, right? And if having “faith” in God means that we’re believing or trusting in something we don’t quite understand but He does, then we should probably get His point of view on what “faith” means before we start to ponder about the things “faith” gets us.

The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to Hebrews (Jews) who had become Christians and part of it was dedicated to the topic of faith. He knew the Jews would understand what he was saying about faith because he used their famous fore-fathers as examples.

In the beginning of his section on faith (if you want to follow along, it’s in the New Testament book of Hebrews, chapter eleven), he gives his readers a definition of what faith is: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” According to Paul, faith is being positive about receiving something we’ve been promised, without any physical proof that we’re actually going to get it.

That part seemed to be in line with what the “faith” expert on TV was saying. He got all his stuff by believing that he would get stuff because God promised it to him.

Then Paul went on to show how all the famous Jewish patriarchs demonstrated faith in what they did and how they pleased God by their actions. But a couple of things really struck me about the people Paul had listed as the heroes of faith.

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