“. . . of whom the world was not worthy” (Hebrews 11:38 NRSV).
Have you ever read something that stuck with you? Maybe you forget it for a while then it popped back into your head randomly or because of some comment or occasion. It’s like that with me and the quotation above when I think of the saints of old. Hebrews 11 parades the faithfulness of some of those saints before us. Though some suffered immensely and were martyred, they kept the faith.
Many have suffered and continue to suffer for the Christian faith. The kidnappings, and beheadings make the news but there is so much more happening. In this day and age in different parts of the world churches are burnt, people are imprisoned and/killed routinely for the faith. There is still the perspective of the writer of Hebrews. The world still does not deserve them.
In a time when it seems as if Christians seek to be deserving of the world, this phrase turns your notions upside down, or right side up. When you live as a faithful saint for Christ, there can be consequences. These are not consequences because of bigoted or seeking the limelight, and so forth. Nor is it the whining because of some perceived slight. It is that in seeking to follow Jesus Christ you march to a different drum and seek to be worthy of God. In doing so, you may come up short in the world’s eyes.
This happened to those saints of old and continues to happen. The world is still not worthy of those it persecutes and exterminates for the faith.
On this day,, the departed saints are celebrated in many traditions. Not all the faithful suffered for the faith. Whether they did or not, it is good to pause and remember them. Here are 3 ways to celebrate them, recognizing that we are all called to be saints:
Honor their memories and learn from the lives of the saints
One of the beautiful things about a day like today, All Saints Day, is that you are reminded of the sacrifices of the saints who have gone before. It is a good time to focus on particular people and their stories and be edified. What lessons do their lives teach you? How are you inspired to live faithfully today as a result? That’s a great way to honor their memories. In addition, simply remembering and reminding others is another way to honor their memories.
Consider the things you may complain about, maybe even whine about. In the light of the suffering of others, particularly for the faith, are they that significant? Sometimes it seems as if you are encouraged to find things to be woeful about. It’s almost as if you are supposed to feel some level of guilt when life is going well. You therefore look for little things to say, “See, it’s not all rosy.” In addition, too often at the least sign of opposition, Christians in places where they are free to worship and speak of Christ openly wave the persecution flag. Consider the saints of old, consider the saints of today who are martyred and brutalized for the faith and gain perspective on your life.
Pray for the saints who face persecution
Make praying for the persecuted a regular part of your prayer life. Remember them when their stories have faded from the news cycle.Remember them even when they are not mentioned in the news. Most are not. Remember the words of the apostle Paul, and pray concerning the body of Christ of which we are all members: “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it (1 Corinthians 12:26 (NRSV). Pray for their endurance, pray for an end to their suffering, pray that others would turn to Jesus Christ as a result of their witness. Pray often and pray sincerely.
It’s all Saint Day. What does that mean to you?
Removing your boundaries to a full and free life through honest, whole-hearted praying.
Image courtesy of digidreamgrafix at FreeDigitalPhotos.net