Yesterday was All Saints Day when, in the Christian tradition, many churches will honor those in their congregation who have joined the Church Triumphant in the past year. God is celebrated and they are honored for the excellent way in which they modeled for us what it means to live out our faith. They are an extension of the cloud of witnesses that Hebrews 11 talks about in its wonderful Hall of Faith walk through Old Testament history. And we are part of that great cloud of witnesses too.
I thought about those whom I look up to and admire in the faith and why. It’s because they really are doing their level best to live their lives in submission to God. They are not just making the hard decisions but truly are engaged in the work of the Spirit wherever they find themselves. God’s mission to reach out and love every single person he created is a part of who they are, not just something they do. I really want to be like that too. I work at it but I’m not there yet.
In chapter 12, Paul tells us: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such 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. 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. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” I guess Paul saw me coming.
Modeling the grace, love, power and forgiveness of Christ to the world around me is impossible if I am trying to do it on my own without receiving guidance and power from the Spirit. And yet it seems so often I barge ahead without consulting him. I have the bible to sustain me and guide me in my walk but it can’t do any of that if I don’t open it up and read it. Every week we have the rare privilege in this country to join together with our brothers and sisters, who are also part of the great cloud of witnesses, to celebrate the Lord, to confess our sinfulness and be assured of God grace and pardon. We sing his praises and approach his throne room to ask for his grace, wisdom and intervention in matters of great concern. And too often I treat it like a chore or disregard it altogether. I am not being a good example to those around me and to future generations. I want to do better and with the Spirit’s help, I will.
Praying, meditating on scripture and gathering with other Christians as the Church to worship our God are the ways I “fix my eyes on Jesus.” If I keep my eyes on Jesus by making these disciplines THE priority, then the worldly things I’ve filled my time with instead will have no power to distract my focus from the author and perfecter of my faith. With my eyes firmly fixed on my Savior, I will be the example of faith I want to be. Not because I think it would be neat if someone years from now might say they admire the way I lived my faith but because I love Jesus and I want to show the world how much by the way I live my life.