Faith, hope, and love abide. - 1 Corinthians 13:13
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.
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. - Hebrews 11:1-3, 6
Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” There is only one component of the Christian life that is more important than faith, and that component is love, because without love, we cannot have faith. The dictionary defines faith as “belief in, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something, especially without logical proof.” It also defines faith as “belief in and devotion to God.” The Bible has much more to say about faith and how important it is. In fact, it is so important that, without faith, we have no place with God, and it is impossible to please Him: “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6). According to the Bible, faith is belief in the one, true God without actually seeing Him.
Faith is not something we conjure up on our own, nor is it something we are born with, nor is faith a result of diligence in study or pursuit of the spiritual. Ephesians 2:8-9 says “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” This passage makes it clear that faith is a gift from God, not because we deserve it, have earned it, or are worthy to have it. It is not from ourselves; it is from God. It is not obtained by our power or our free will. Faith is simply given to us by God, along with His grace and mercy, according to His plan and purpose, and because of that, He gets all the glory.
God designed a way to distinguish between those who belong to Him and those who don’t, and it is called faith. Very simply, we need faith to please God. God tells us that it pleases Him that we believe in Him even though we cannot see Him. A key part of Hebrews 11:6 tells us that “he rewards those who seek him.” This is not to say that we have faith in God just to get something from Him. However, God blesses those who are obedient and faithful. We see a perfect example of this in Luke 7:50. Jesus is engaged in dialog with a sinful woman when He gives us a glimpse of why faith is so rewarding. “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” The woman believed in Jesus Christ by faith, and He rewarded her for it. Finally, faith is what sustains us to the end, knowing that by faith we will be in heaven with God for all eternity. First Peter 1:8-9 tells us “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
As LGBT Christians, we know that faith can be very difficult. All people question God’s plans at various times. Why did He allow that tornado to hit? Why would He allow some one to walk into a Church and kill nine people? At every tragedy, we ask why, but we must believe in God’s plan. Look at the aftermath of the Charleston shooting, we are openly discussing racism in this country and symbols of that racism, like the Confederate flag, that many people claim is their heritage. Yes, it is part of their heritage and that heritage is a heritage of hate and disloyalty to their country. However, that discussion is now being had all across America.
To bring this back to LGBT Christians, we wonder why God would allow parents to reject us. Why do so many LGBT youth become homeless? Why is the suicide rate for LGBT higher than any other group in society? Why does God not strike down those who preach hate in His name in the pulpits of churches across the world? But if we believe, if we have faith, then we know that God has a greater purpose. What is that purpose, because it is hard to see at times? I do not know, only God knows, but we should have faith in him.
When we question our faith, we should remember the story of David and Goliath, which is just one of many stories of faith in the Bible, but I use David because of his great love of Jonathan:
“Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down. . .that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.’”
By faith, we can do incredible things that will ultimately bring glory to God. David was a small boy and Goliath was a giant, but David had faith in God and with that faith he defeated Goliath. When the odds are against is, powers that be they their best to take away our rights, and preachers fill their congregations with hatred for us, we must remember to have faith in God. He will ultimately protect us and keep us safe, but we must have faith. No matter how limited you feel about your abilities to make the world a better place, we can do amazing things through faith and for the glory of God.
I want to leave you today with what Paul wrote to Timothy:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. - 2 Timothy 4:7-8