Tent-Like Faith Looks Forward To A Heavenly City – Acts 7:4

Part 2 in the series, “Abraham’s Tent-Like Faith | Outdoor Ministry Inklings from Hebrews 11:8-9

I’m guessing that many of us camp in tents sometime throughout the year. This series on Abraham’s tent-like faith shows us how to seize this teachable moment to connect tent-camping with what our life of faith is supposed to look like. But put on your seatbelt, it’s a little “intense.” I love puns.

Dwelling in tents in the wilderness illustrates faith really well: Tent-like faith in God does not settle down and call earth home. We are looking forward to a heavenly city as we live as strangers on this side of eternity….

It is interesting that Stephen, in Acts 7:4, highlights that even though Abraham could have SETTLED DOWN in the Promised Land, he chose to continue living a Pioneer’s life with no inheritance or land to call “his own”…

God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living. Yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him as a possession and to his offspring after him, though he had no child. (Acts 7:4)

In the same way that Jesus uses the image of a mustard seed and explains that even faith that small could move mountains… Abraham’s nomadic lifestyle is used here similarly as a parable, or object lesson .… there is message and meaning in his lifestyle… the Apostle Peter also affirms this Tent-Like Faith in 1 Peter 2:11 – where he exhorts the church to keep on living as ‘aliens and exiles’ in the world. He writes:  “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” In other words, even if we have the opportunity to become a “settler” in this life, biblical faith-life will reject that and choose a “pioneer lifestyle”. A lifestyle of dependence, risk, moving forward, resisting the passions of the flesh which just want us to settle down and make the earth our home.…

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IS ABRAHAM’S FAITH-STORY STILL RELEVANT TO PEOPLE WHO HAVE AVERSION TO ADVENTURE?

“Does a pioneer or Abraham-style faith really relate to us today?”  Some might want to argue that this kind of nomadic-lifestyle is “Only some people have the personality for adventure or pioneer-like-faith.” But from the context of Hebrews this was just the sort of weak faith that the author was trying to combat with his audience. He writes:

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. (Hebrews 5:12-13)

I would argue that this passage in Hebrews calls us all back to a Faith that is more Tent-Like than not. It calls us to the same intentionally that Abraham displayed, in choosing to resist the temptation to settle down and make the earth our “home.”

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Yet unfortunately for a lot of us, after some of the initial passion of our conversion to Christ wears off, we get comfortable and start setting up shop… We stop living by faith.

DOES YOUR CHURCH OR ORGANIZATION HAVE A VIBE OF PIONEERS OR SETTLERS ?

If your church or organization struggles with behaving like “settlers” rather than pioneers, then a high quality outdoor ministry might be your remedy…

In his book, Lion and Lamb, Brennan Manning writes about the difference between a church that lives life like Settlers versus a church that adopts a Pioneer lifestyle. By focusing on Abraham’s nomadic eternity-focused faith in these passages the author was calling Believers to consider the nomadic, other-worldly faith of Abraham which looked more like the Beverley Hillbillies, or a wagon train headed West, than an established settlement. In a sense what I hear the writer exhorting us to do is to view our churches like a house of worship on wheels.  We might even have some bullet holes in our canvas, like those old covered wagons. A church with pioneer-like faith is more into the mission of entering the untamed, unreached corners of its city, nation, or world than it is into establishing some sort of comfortable equilibrium where we function like a finely tuned machine.

RELATED POST: Abraham’s Tent-Like Faith | Outdoor Ministry Inklings from Hebrews 11:8-9

TAKE ACTION

  • Can you relate with the author of Hebrews’ audience? Are you seeing any signs of weakening faith or a habit of walking by sight rather than faith?
  • How would you characterize the daily expression your own faith? Does your faith-life look more like a covered-wagon with bullet holes and tattered canvas? Or have you allowed the cares and comforts of the world to tempt to you become a settler, making this life on earth your home?
  • If you could take out a group on a weekend excursion to talk about how the author of Hebrews uses Abraham’s tent-like faith to spur his audience on to walk by faith and not by sight, who would you invite to come with you? What’s stopping you from organizing a short retreat like this?
  • Dream big: imagine what could as a result of a retreat like this where people were reminded to get back to a more intentional faith-life that does not view earth as our home?

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