Friday, December 7, 2012

"The World Was Not Worthy of Them."

Hebrews 11: 32-38.  And what more shall I say?  I don't have time to tell about . . .

. . . about every other Old Testament giant of faith, people who put the rest of us wimpy American cultural Christians to shame.

. . . who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised . . . whose weakness was turned to strength, and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies . . .

Through their faith -- their assurance of things they hoped for, their certainty of things not yet seen -- these people were empowered to accomplish great things in the world.  To meet their responsibilities with unexplainable strength and success.  And we -- we struggle to find the strength to give up our donut and Angry Birds obsessions. 

. . . who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword . . . Women received back their dead, raised to life again . . .

But some not only were empowered to accomplish the everyday tasks of their lives in a great way (and that would be awesome enough for me), but were the recipients of miraculous intervention in their lives.  Miracles.  Beyond any natural explanation.  I suspect there are miracles happening around us all the time; we just don't have the eyes of faith to see them.  But I also suspect that most of us never have the opportunity to experience a miracle because we never step out to do bold things that can only succeed if God is behind them.

There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment.  They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. . . destitute, persecuted and mistreated . . .

And then there are those who submitted themselves to unjust persecution because they were sure of what they hoped for, certain of what they could not yet see.  There are still these giants of faith in our world right now.  Some days, it grieves me so much how we go to great extremes to avoid offending anyone of any other faith in our own or any country of the world -- and yet there are young people being killed by their parents, students being murdered on the road to school, fathers being imprisoned and tortured, only because they proclaim Jesus Christ as their Lord.  And where is the outcry? 

And where is my shame that I am silenced merely by the fear of a disparaging look from my neighbor who suspects I'm a Jesus freak?

The world was not worthy of them.

Indeed.  Not worthy to touch the hem of their garments. 

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