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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Imperfect People

In our Christian Scriptures we have something of a "Hall of Faith," found in Hebrews chapter 11.  If you read my recent post about biblical illiteracy, you will not be surprised to find that the people listed here are the ones of children's Sunday School.  They are the stories we have heard, if we have heard any stories at all.  Granted, we have edited out all the scary parts, but the names may ring a bell.  Having taken just a little bit of time to refresh my memory on the unabridged versions of some of these lives; even though Hebrews has traditionally been among my favorite passages of Scripture, I found myself somewhat distraught, today.  This hall of faith?  This great cloud of witnesses?  They are imperfect people.  And when I say this, I mean they are truly, terribly, unbelievably imperfect people!  There is not a story among the bunch that would inspire me to look at my children and exclaim, "Be like Samson!  Be like David!  Be like Rahab!"  But they're what we have, friends.         

Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (NIV, 1984).

I can roll with that, but what is it about these people that caused them to make the famous list?

"This is what the ancients were commended for..." (2): 

"One who pleased God..." (5), "considered him faithful who had made the promise..." (11), "longing for a better country..." (16), "they were not afraid..." (23), offering, sacrifice, and blessing...  cheating death... obedience and perseverance... "whose weakness was turned to strength..." (23).

And again, "whose weakness was turned to strength..." (23).


If that's the key, I think I can get back on board.  Because I am an imperfect person.  Sometimes I'm even a truly, terribly, unbelievably imperfect person.  Sometimes I can't look at anyone and exclaim, "Be like me!"  But I want to.  I want to, because I want to be so much like Jesus that it makes sense for others to emulate what I'm doing, precisely because it is not me, precisely because it is strength that is not my own flowing from the weakness of which I am so ridiculously familiar.

"The world was not worthy of them..." (38).  The ancients.  Well, no kidding!  Please excuse my moment of sarcasm when I consider just exactly how the world thought it might be worthy of something altogether different - some people not named Sarah or Moses or Jephthah or L.  Not that I'm comparing myself with the fathers and mothers of the faith.  I'm surely not.  But the point is, we're all pretty messed up.

And yet there is hope. 

Hebrews 12:1-3, "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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart" (NIV).

Because they're actually not all we have. 


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