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In Their Steps

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In Their Steps

Hebrews 11:29-12:2

Watching my nephews play the other day, I noticed how the younger ones would watch the older children, then imitate their actions. They learned from one another for good or ill!

That’s how many of us learn things: by watching other people. When you start a new job, it’s nice to have someone on hand to demonstrate how certain procedures are handled. When I’m learning a computer program, I hate to read the manual!  I’d much rather have someone sit at the terminal with me and walk me through the steps.

In the faith adventure, we also learn by observing those who have gone before us. Most of us who are citizens of the Kingdom today came to faith in Christ because of the influence of a parent or sibling, a friend or teacher, someone who not only taught us about Jesus but modeled faith for us. Those who have walked before us in the adventure of faith offer us worthy models.

They Encourage Us by Their Example

The writer of Hebrews carries us through a litany of examples of faith put into action, from the crossing of the Red Sea to the bold obedience of the prophets. This “great cloud of witnesses” provides a model of faithfulness and commitment to encourage us in our own walk of faith.

They Challenge Us by Their Sacrifice

We live in a day when sacrifice is considered something we should make others do for our benefit. The thought of personal sacrifice is almost alien to our culture.

Yet as we walk down the corridors of this gallery of faith’s heroes and heroines, we are impressed with the willingness of so many to endure persecution, withstand opposition, and remain faithful in the face of danger and even death. Their examples of sacrifice for their faith offer a model for us.

They Remind Us of Our Dependence on Christ

The hail of fame found in the eleventh chapter contains some of the greatest names of faith in all of history: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and on the list goes. They were men and women who walked with God, and whose faithfulness is a

for us.

Yet that is not enough. As 11:39 notes, “They were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.” Their personal obedience and sacrifice alone were not enough. What did they lack? “Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith” (12:2). The most we can do on our own is not enough to earn our place in God’s Kingdom; Christ alone can welcome us into God’s presence.

In track and field competitions, the runners assemble on the track, the gun sounds, and they break for the finish line. One thing you don’t see those sprinters do is gaze into the sky or look at people in the stands as they run; they keep their focus locked on to the tape that crosses the finish line. That’s the goal, and they run toward it with all their energy and determination.

As we run the race of faith, our ultimate hope is in Christ. We are to keep our eyes focused on him.

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