Summary: Faith consists of risk, offers a reward, requires action, and is the way of acceptance.
Football season is upon us as we enter the final month of summer 2003. Soon the days will grow cooler, the night will come earlier, and the clothes will cover more of us rather than less.
Already the pundits are making their predictions regarding the best teams in the high school and college polls and who will make it to the Super Bowl, which is still 6 months away.
(Overhead 1) Speaking of football, legend has it that Knute Rockne and the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame were about to again face the University of Southern California, in one of the storied rivalries of college football. In this particular season, USC was a far superior team to Notre Dame and Rockne was worried about the outcome of the game. Then he got an idea.
He scoured the city of South Bend for about a hundred of the biggest men that he could find. When he had most of them, each at least six-foot five inches and around three hundred and fifty pounds, he had them dress in Notre Dame uniforms complete with shoulder pads and helmets, which made them look even bigger.
When it was time for the game to begin, Rockne had these 100 men come out of the locker room first. As the USC team watched, they kept coming and coming and coming until these hundred men were all the USC players saw.
Even though the USC coach made the point, “They can only field eleven men at a time,” the damage was done. None of the 100 ever played a minute of the game. But USC had become so intimidated at the sight of them that they were unable to function and Notre Dame won the game.
An addendum to the story makes the following point: “Kind of reminds us of the twelve spies and Israel as they lost out on “winning” the Promised Land even though they never engaged a single one of the “giants” in the battle.” Both stories illustrate an important point – the place and importance of faith.
We continue our summer series, “Classic Chapters of the Bible” with a stop at Hebrews 11 – the faith chapter.
The story that we have just heard illustrates something that is common to all of us – things we place our faith in. And this past week I asked some of you, “Other than God, who or what do you place the greatest faith in and why?” Here is what some of you said: (overhead 2)
Others because they believe in us and we in them
Self because, as one person put it, “I know myself.”
Family because they are reliable.
Spouse because they are there for me.
Parents because they set an example of faith to me.
Faith is a critical part of life. We have to have faith on a daily basis at a certain level in order to function. We have to have faith that our transportation will get us to where we are going. We have to have faith that the other drivers will drive safely as well. We have to have faith in the chairs that we sit in will hold us up, in the purity of our food and water that we eat and drink. Why? Because if we did not, then we would not dare to come out of our homes, or live in them, or trust anyone or anything. Paranoia would set in and life would become chaotic.
This morning we are looking at faith, however, at a far deeper level. It is the level at which we make the choices to believe, trust, and have faith (or not) in God, others, and self. Four things we are to notice about faith this morning:
First, faith has a cost. (Overhead 3) We see this dramatically in the lives of three persons mentioned in this chapter: Noah, Abraham, and Moses. Each of these men had faith in the person and purposes of God and lived in that faith though it was difficult at times.
We are tempted perhaps to see certain events in their lives a unique to their situation, Noah and the construction of the Ark, for example, and that those moments have nothing to say to us because we have not been told to build an Ark. That’s true, you and I have not been told to build an ark. But we miss the point of Noah if we focus on the boat and not the captain.
In Genesis 6:8 we read, “But Noah found favor with the Lord.” And Noah found favor with the Lord because of his faith that was expressed in the way that He lived as is described in verse 9, “Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless man living on earth at the time. He consistently followed God’s will and enjoyed a close relationship with Him.” I would call that faith in action.