“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews is often referred to as The Hall of Faith. It is called so because it contains the names and accounts of many of the people in the Old Testament who exemplified a life of faith in God.
It is certainly not exhaustive—by its own admission (v. 32)—but it does serve to remind the reader of the many that have gone before and the many that continue to journey down a path of faithfulness to God.
Nov. 1 is celebrated as All Saints Day or All Hallows Day. It is the day when some in the Church have chosen to honor those saints who have gone before us—in righteousness, in faithfulness, and some even to death as martyrs. How do we honor the faithful who have gone before us? How are we honoring the faithful who persevere even today?
After describing many of the faithful saints in chapter 11, the author of Hebrews wrote, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (12:1). The narrative of God’s Church is filled with the stories of women and men who have lived out their faithfulness to God in such ways that testified to His grace, and in ways that brought light into the darkness.
And since our history is filled with these saints, shouldn’t Christians honor their faithfulness by living faithfully as well? Shouldn’t Christians intentionally cast off those things that hinder our walk with God and our call to bring hope into the world? Shouldn’t we be doing everything we can to rid ourselves of the sin that so easily entangles us?
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (12:2). There is no better way to honor the faithful than to be faithful ourselves to God. We are to do this by keeping our eyes on Him at all times and in all things. We are to fix our gaze upon Jesus so that we might forever be reminded of the suffering He endured because of God’s faithfulness to us.
“Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (12:3). Being faithful to God is a continuous struggle. The world around us rejects the idea of a God who could love as much as He does.
The world rejects that idea because the world cannot even fathom a love that great. And because of this rejection, every Christian will find that following God is a constant battle against our own flesh and lusts. However, when we keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus, there is hope for perseverance.
Honoring the faithful may be best done by simply taking time to consider the implications of God taking on flesh for the sake of a creation that rebels against Him. Take time to consider that Jesus stepped into this world—in flesh and blood—knowing He would be mocked, spit upon, beaten, and crucified by the very people He came to save.
Reflect upon the love God must have in order to have considered it joy to be able to bring salvation to those who swore to hate Him. And when you consider that, allow it to encourage you so that you might also consider it joy to bring light into the dark world by being faithful to the God who desires to save it. That is how we honor the saints.
Please come join us as we fix our eyes on Jesus. We meet Sundays at 9 a.m. for Sunday school and 10 a.m. for worship. Everyone is welcome!