BY FAITH was first published at Suite101.com on February 28, 2005. It has subsequently been published on other sites, including FaithWriters.com.
Readers of the New Testament are familiar with the list of Biblical heroes and heroines found in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. This chapter describes the noble characteristics and good deeds of these men and women, declaring that both characteristics and deeds were direct results of their remarkable faith. It is, in a sense, an anthology of stories of “faith-in-action.” Often used in sermons and religious teachings, Hebrews 11 has become a favorite source of exhortation for perseverance in good works and holy living.
However, after recently rereading the passage, I began to realize how few similarities there are between those mentioned in the epistle and most modern day, middle-class, suburban, protestant church attendants. Maybe there are exceptions, but the churches I have observed know nothing of the trials and accomplishments described in the subject chapter. This lack of similarity obviously produces a lack of relevance. In order to achieve a meaningful and practical teaching on the subject of faith for those mentioned, a realistic and identifiable set of examples must be used. In other words, the standard must be lowered. Therefore, I have created a more practical, more realistic, and more “modern-middleclass-suburban-protestant” list of heroes and heroines of the faith.
By faith, John did not curse and cause a scene when he saw that his favorite parking place was taken in the church parking lot, but instead, quietly parked somewhere else.
By faith, Amy trusted God to fix her favorite sports car for a reasonable amount of money so she would not be forced to drive that awful 2-year-old sedan to work again.
By faith, Tony stayed awake throughout the entire church service 2 weeks in a row.
By faith, Bob did not despair of life or return to drugs and alcohol when he heard the news that his teenage daughter wanted to get a tattoo.
By faith, Bob’s wife did not kill Bob when she learned that Bob said it was OK for their teenage daughter to get the tattoo, as long as it was on her foot.
By faith, Sheila, who forgot to pick up her new dress at the cleaners, went to church anyway, even though she knew that Rita was going to look more fashionable.
By faith, George did not return the symbolic hand gesture from the driver next to him, which was given because George would not allow the driver to get into the exit lane in front of him.
By faith, Greg gave an extra dollar to the missionary who spoke at church on Sunday night. He would have given more, but Monday was his golf day and he had just enough money to play and buy a bagel and coffee.
By faith, Stephanie paid $75.00 to the Christian bookstore for two really nice looking Christian “witnessing-type” T-shirts, and paid $45.00 for a couple of really hot Christian CD’s, and gave the homeless guy in the parking lot .53 cents on her way to the car.
By faith, Fran and Eric bought their 6-year-old son a new videotape of children’s cartoon Bible stories to watch with his favorite babysitter on his birthday while they went to the church seminar on family relations.
By faith, Fran and Eric promised to spend some quality time with their 6-year-old son one weekend very soon.
By faith, Fran and Eric’s six-year-old son prayed that God would keep him from hating his parents.
By faith, Mark and Helen sat next to Allen, a man of a different race than they, at church on Wednesday night.
By faith, Allen forgave Mark and Helen for ignoring him during the entire service.
By faith, Associate Pastor Reggie did not repeat himself over and over again during Sunday morning’s sermon just to prove to Pastor Harrington that he could preach longer than 20 minutes.
By faith, Pastor Harrington allowed Assistant Pastor Reggie to preach, even though he felt threatened by him.
By faith, Pastor Harrington and Assistant Pastor Reggie pretend to get along.
By faith, Mrs. Belamy (who donated the flowers placed on the table in front of the pulpit) did not get angry when her name was misspelled in the Sunday morning bulletin acknowledgments.
By faith, the Ladies of the Church group forgave Mrs. Belamy for refusing to buy flowers for the next Sunday’s service.
By faith, the recently fired pastor of Main Street Presbyterian Church believed that God would lead him to a new pastorate.
By faith, the session of Main Street Presbyterian Church believed that God would restore the $30,000.00 missing from the church’s general account.
What more shall I say? There is not enough time to mention the many suburban, middle-class, Protestant Christians who attend church weekly, pay their tithes faithfully, smile regularly, drink moderately, prepare their taxes honestly, and drive safely. Since we are surrounded by such a great fog of witnesses, should we not also persevere in faith?