Most of us are familiar with Hebrews 11. The chapter has sometimes been called “The Heroes Hall of Faith.” We are all familiar with the various halls of fame in sports, but this is a hall of fame among the people of God. Hebrews 11 celebrates Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and others. But in reality, the passage is not about the greatness of these past people of God, but the greatness of the God they trusted in.
Never the less, Hebrews 11 calls us to remember those who walked in faith. From the perspective of the New Testament, we would add the names of Peter, John, and Paul, along with others. When we celebrate the lives of faithful men and women who have gone before us, we are reminded, as Hebrews says, of the great cloud of witnesses that surround us. Their faithful lives urge us on to be faithful in our day.
I recently read John Piper’s; The Swans are Not Silent series of books. Piper celebrates the lives of Augustine, Luther, Calvin, John Bunyan, William Wilberforce, Athanasius, and others. The book is very well written and easy to follow. Thankfully, there are many other wonderfully written biographies of faithful Christians who have gone before us.
As I write these words, I have two thoughts. The first is about a recent conversation I had with a man who had been a Christian for some time. I told him that J.I. Packer is now quite old and frail. He said, “Who is that?” I said, “J.I. Packer lives in Vancouver, and is surely one of the most well known Christians of our era. He said, “Never heard of him.” I said, “Have you heard of Wayne Gretzky?” He said, “Sure.” I said, “we all have heroes.”
The second thought I have has to do with church libraries. I have browsed through many. I must say, some are excellent. But many fill their shelves with “Christian Romances”. I have a suggestion to Christian librarians. Get on the internet and seek out the best Christian biographies you can find, geared toward young people. Why should the kids in your church grow up and not know that William Wilberforce fought an amazing battle to end slavery? Shouldn’t they know that it was Christians who led this fight? How about Corrie ten Boom and her historic witness for Christ, in saving Jews during the holocaust? How about telling young girls about Florence Nightingale, Fanny Crosby or Amy Carmichael. And how about telling young boys about Adonirum Judson, George Muller, or Hudson Taylor?
I think its time to remind each other that the truly great men and women were not great because they played hockey well, or acted in a popular movie, or even got involved in politics. Let’s tell them of men and women who trusted in God, and through faith, changed the world.
Just a thought.