Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.
Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)
A number of years ago, Wendy and I were visiting friends in upstate New York. We were quite shocked when our friends told us that Cooperstown was only a 30-minute drive, and so we found ourselves visiting the Baseball Hall of Fame. It was a lot of fun for us.
As a baseball fan, I find the annual induction of individuals into the Hall of Fame interesting. For those who are unaware, there has been a lot of controversy in recent years regarding players who used (or allegedly used) performance-enhancing steroids in the 90s and just after the turn of the century. The Baseball Writer’s Association has refused to induct any of the top performers of the era into the Hall.
My opinion doesn’t really matter, so I won’t offer it here (If you want to know, just buy me a pint and we can chat! 😉). One of the arguments, however, is that to refuse great players an induction into the Hall is hypocritical. Many players in the Hall of Fame were great players who were downright lousy human beings. It’s well documented that many of them “cheated” in the manner of their eras by doctoring balls or stealing signs. So, why refuse players of the steroid era?
This came to mind as I read today’s chapter, which is well-known to many as the “Faith Hall of Fame.” The author of the letter to the Hebrews is making the argument that it is faith in God that is the key spiritual activator, not good deeds, purity, religious ritual, or a clean life. Paul wrote to Jesus’ followers in Ephesus:
Saving is all [God’s] idea, and all [God’s] work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (MSG)
As I read through the “Faith Hall of Fame” I couldn’t help but think about some of those mentioned and the facts of their lives:
Noah: Got blackout drunk and naked.
Abraham: On multiple occasions, he passed his wife off as his sister for social and political expediency, placing her at great risk. When God’s promise of a child was long in coming, he slept with his wife’s maid to have a child, then later abandoned both the maid and his first-born son.
Sarah: Talked her husband into sleeping with her maid in order for Abraham to have a son. Then when she had a son herself, she made her husband banish the woman and child.
Jacob: Deceived his own brother out of his rightful birthright and inheritance as the first-born.
David: Adulterer and murderer.
You get the picture. God’s “Faith Hall of Fame” is filled with flawed human beings just like me. In fact, they were flawed human beings just like every other human being on the planet. Yet that’s exactly why they made the Hall. Despite their own obvious shortcomings, they believed and had faith in God’s promises.
This morning’s chapter is a great reminder that what God is looking for is not perfect human beings, not even good human beings, but human beings with the simple willingness to believe in His promises, and the confidence to live according to spiritual realities that can’t themselves be physically seen, only their effects.
I’m reminded this morning of the blind man who said to Jesus, “Open my eyes, Lord. I want to see.” A friend suggested praying that regularly as it is as spiritually apt for me as it was physically apt for the blind man. Indeed.
As for the steroid-era baseball players being in the Baseball Hall of Fame, I don’t know. I still need to mull that one over a pint.
If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.