When I was a kid playing baseball with my friends, one of the favorite things for us to do was to copy the batting stances of some our favorite professional players. If you aren’t very familiar with baseball, often players will have rather unique stances when they are up to bat and also when they swing. We loved mimicking players in part to see if what they did worked, and also to see if our friends could guess the players we were copying.
Learning from the Saints
This week, as we turn our attention to Hebrews 11—the “Hall of Faith” as it is often called—we need to be careful not to make one of two mistakes.
The first is that we hold up these heroes as perfect examples for us to follow. They are not. Every person on this list was sinful and broken. While they did good, they also did a lot of bad. Just like copying the batting stance and swing of even the greatest baseball player is emulating someone who failed many more times as they succeeded (getting a hit 3 times out of 10 for a career is amazing, which means 7 times out of 10, that player got out), so it is with these heroes of the faith. None of these heroes was perfect. None are the Savior we needed.
And that takes us to the other mistake we can make: discounting these heroes of the faith all together. We can go too far the other way from the first mistake and minimize or even ignore important lessons we can learn from these men and women. No, they were not perfect, but they did live in faith, and we can learn from that. That is, after all, why the Holy Spirit inspired the writer of Hebrews to pen chapter 11.
As we approach these heroes of the faith, let’s do so with balance. Let’s not exalt them too high above where they belong, but let’s neither disparage them too low beneath how God used them. Let’s find examples to encourage us and even help us live in faith. But let’s do so with an eye of how these heroes of the faith were able to see victory, at least at times. It wasn’t them, but someone working in and through them.
Following the Savior
All of these Old Testament heroes saw success for the same reason: God at work in them. Their faith was meaningful because they yielded to God. So we look not to these men and women as much as we look through them to see Jesus more clearly.
As we look to these heroes, we discover ways we too can live in faith in Jesus. We look for Christlike conduct that these heroes displayed as they anticipated He who was to come. In doing so, we find ways to live like Christ today as we anticipate He who is to come again.
Ultimately, Jesus accomplished the perfection of our faith by his sacrificial death on the cross. In keeping with the race imagery, he has cleared the path of faith so that we may run it. The way is open, and although hurdles exist, the roadblocks have been removed.” — George GuthrieGeorge H. Guthrie, Hebrews, in The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 399.
Tips for Teaching this Week’s Session
Every week, Karen Jones and I offer guidance to help you as you prepare to teach every session of The Gospel Project for Preschool and Kids. Listen in as we discuss:
- The big idea of the session
- Any areas of caution or requiring additional prep time
- What we hope God will do through this session
This training is available on Ministry Grid, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and other podcast platforms.