It took a fair bit of time to construct this one, but it is especially relevant to the current ‘leg of the journey’ I am walking with Hannah in Tonga.
How relevant in your particular culture is the idea found in Hebrews of faith as a journey?
Because the nature of journeying has changed, the concept of faith as a journey is different today in Western culture from the time when Hebrews was written. The fact that journeys in the first and second century were long, arduous and difficult undertakings that required significant investment on the behalf of the journeyman is a concept that no longer exists in modern day thought. Journeys in a Western context are usually taken in cars, planes, trains or buses and so the undertaking is significantly easier and less demanding than before. So when the book of Hebrews likens faith as a journey, I am almost certain that the Western culture, particularly in Sydney, has very little understanding of what a true journey is.
The author of Hebrews utilises the concept of rest at the end of the journey in 3:16-19 and 4:8 to show that it ends with relief for those travelling. In the current Christian climate of Sydney, I find it very hard to translate this to non-Christians, and even for many Christians, as they tend to reject ‘hardship’ as something undesirable in our life. Yet, the way it is framed in 6:11-12 – if it is a passage in our life, we should we show persistence, earnestness and hold hope until the end in faith, then we will inherit the promises given to us.
I personally think our Western culture in Australia has developed a hedonistic, entitled and laziness within it that results in the loss of meaning of a journey, particularly with faith. We struggle to view a long and difficult journey as refining of our character and holiness in God. In his Treatise on Religious Affections, Jonathan Edwards writes:
True virtue never appears so lovely, as when it is most oppressed; and the divine excellency of real Christianity, is never exhibited with such advantage, as when under the greatest trials: then it is that true faith appears much more precious than gold! And upon this account is “found to praise, and honor, and glory.
I would understand that the concept of faith as a journey is quickly losing meaning in our culture, and yet it is at this time that we need it the most! Fighting against the injustices of this world in the name of God requires people to undertake long and winding journey’s through roads unmarked. Or walking your whole life with God in the knowledge of His eternal reward for those who walk with faith is a journey that will test all who undertake it. Yet many people are unable to see through the journey in faith for the inheritance they are promised.
One of my responses:
However i feel that the masses in Springfield would be more obliged to see “life as a journey” rather than faith.
I must admit, when I read that I couldn’t help but consider the lyrics to Tom Cochrane’s song ‘Life is a highway, I wanna ride it all night long’ from the perspective that many would view the travels of life as much more demanding and relevant than the journey of faith.
Do you think that our mobile generation, which is less in tune with the expending of energy on activities like long walking to arrive at a generaton, has little appreciation of the effort that is required to travel the distances both physically and metaphorically without the assistance of technology?