Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Further Down the Roll Call of Faith

I never finished reading the Bible all the way through last year when we were engaged in that exercise as a church. I’m not giving up, however. I’m plugging ahead. This morning my reading included the 11th chapter of Hebrews, AKA “The Roll Call of Faith.” You probably recall Hebrews 11:1 as the definition of faith: the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (according to the NASV) … a definition, by the way, that has always hit me like, “OK it sounds good, but what does it actually mean?” The writer then lists case after case from the O.T. where faith resulted (at least eventually) in what we would see as God’s blessing. We read those accounts and are prone to assume that if we have faith, everything will turn out OK. And if things don’t turn out OK, then it must be because we lack faith. It makes sense. It’s logical. But it’s not true.

But others trusted God and were tortured, preferring to die rather than turn from God and be free. They placed their hope in the resurrection to a better life. Some were mocked, and their backs cut open with whips. Others were chained in dungeons. Some died by stoning, and some were sawed in half; others were killed with the sword. Some went about in skins of sheep and goats, hungry and oppressed and mistreated. (Hb. 11:35b-37, NLT)
As I reflected on that, here’s what I wrote in my journal this morning: We don’t like to hear the stories of people who have had faith and “lost.” We celebrate the people whose churches get huge under their leadership. They headline massive conferences and we seek to emulate what they did … even to the point of seeing ourselves as inferior in comparison when we can’t seem to do the same level of wonderful stuff where we are. But scripture tells us otherwise.
All too often we hear people say things to the effect of: “if you give your life to Christ, then everything will work out great.” It ain’t necessarily so. I am much more comfortable with people who honestly say that if you give your life to Christ, then some things in your life might very well get tougher.

I remember one of my choir members from a previous church whose home life was quite difficult … and many in the church knew it. She shared a note that she got from one of the members of the congregation (who knew her home situation) letting her know what an encouragement it was to see her lifting her voice in praise every Sunday morning. She was not a stellar singer by any stretch of the imagination, but she was faithful and the joy of Christ in her heart was evident. Jesus didn’t come to fix everything bad in our lives, but He does redeem them for His glory.

That’s enough to think about for now. The peace of Christ to you.


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