Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Imitate the Faithful

I am currently doing my personal study through the book of Hebrews. This morning part very end of the passage I studied was Hebrews 6:11-12. The writer of this book wrote:
11 But we passionately want each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of your hope until the end, 12 so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and perseverance inherit the promises. (NET)
These two verses come at the end of a very controversial passage of Scripture. And while the Hebrews 6:4-6 may hold controversy this passage, Hebrews 6:11-12, is very clear. We need to persevere and continue to live faithful lives even when things are difficult and the easiest thing in the world to do is to turn our backs on God. Perseverance demonstrates our faith in God.

Because perseverance is so important it is absolutely essential that we have people in our lives who are models of Christian living. That is what the writer of Hebrews clearly says: imitators of those who through faith and perseverance inherit the promises. We need to people to follow and people who will teach us how to navigate this life in a right and holy way. If we simply begin this journey by ourselves seeking to make it on our faith alone we will eventually give up. Role models provide examples to follow and encouragement to remain faithful in the face of adversity. Remember role models can come in various forms.

Role models people whom we have an actual relationship.

People whom we can watch, observe, question, and interact with can teach us how live our faith each and every day. Kevin Perdew, a youth minister I met when I was an 8th grader and church camp was one of these for me. He took and interest in me and helped me understand a little bit better how to be like Jesus.

Role models can be authors and teachers, people with whom we have very little contact.

Through their writings and teachings we can be inspired to improve our relationship with God and to change our lives. Erwin McManus has been this for me. Ever since I heard him at the National Youth Leaders Convention in 2003 I have been inspired by what he has written and said.

Role models are also found in people long gone.

The Bible provides us with many people who were examples of great faith. People we can read about and discover how they handled the difficulties of life. One of my heroes is Jonathan. Not only did he have the courage in 1 Samuel 14 to take on the Philistine army, but he had the love for David and the faith in God to step away from kingship and allow David to become king. Jonathan is an overlooked man of faith in the Bible.

Role models provide us with an example to follow. We need these examples in our lives. The writer of Hebrews writes that if we don't follow the examples of the men and women of faith who have gone before us we be in danger of becoming spiritual dull and indifferent (sluggish). We will miss out on what God has for our lives.

Role models provide encouragement in the face of adversity. Following Jesus isn’t easy. The New Testament never promises that it would be. During those tough times of faith we need people in our lives who can, through their words and actions and example, encourage us to stay with Jesus rather than just going our own way. The original readers of Hebrews, because of persecution, considering leaving Jesus and going back to Judaism. The writer of this book wants to encourage these people to hang on and remember those faithful people who have endured so much already for the kingdom of God.

It is never enough to remain where we are when it comes to following Jesus. We must constantly be trying to move forward, maturing in our faith, and becoming the people God desires us to be. Here is the thought that I want to leave you with. Just as we need role models in our lives, the people behind us (our children and new Christians) need role models as well. They are counting on us to be examples of Christian living for them. We do this by loving other people, by being servants, and being faithful in the place God has put us. If we are going to make a difference in this world it is going to happen because we are following those Christ Followers who have gone before us. Through their example and inspiration we can avoid becoming spiritually dull and instead make an impact in our family, community, or even the world.

  • Point to Ponder: Role models provide examples to follow and encouragement to remain faithful in the face of adversity.
  • Passage to Remember: Hebrews 6:11-12
  • Question to Consider: Who are you following? Who is following you?

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