Hebrews 11:13-16, All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.

The older we are, the more we search for meaning and significance in life. The more spiritually mature we are, the more we realize our insignificance. Usually, age urges us to evaluate personal significance, and often advances spiritual maturity.

Obviously, those two perspectives go in opposite directions. In one, we seek for assurance of personal significance. In the other, we realize our insignificance.

The effect of both results in a great irony in human physical existence. We, as followers of God and Jesus Christ, grow in awareness that we do not belong. Evil's expressions increasingly distress us. Hate and contempt's expressions frustrate us inwardly and outwardly. Injustice deeply troubles us. On deeper levels, we realize that there are no simple answers--existence's problems are quite complex! We yearn for simpler times, fully aware that such times do not exist. The more we are exposed to, the less we understand.

We look at the struggles around us, shake our heads, and quietly say to ourselves, "Did they not know this would be the result? Did they not understand the consequences?" When the obvious answer is "No!" we are astounded that anyone "could not know that."

The author of the writing we know as Hebrews understood the enormous tension created by being a person of faith in an environment that says only "reality" exists. The more you are a person of faith, the less you fit into "physical reality." The people to whom this author wrote knew that struggle--they lived in an extremely idolatrous environment!

He reminded them that the great people of faith they admired--including Abraham--"did not fit." Though these people were only "stops" on God's journey to His objectives in Christ, though they glimpsed but never possessed God's great promises in Christ, though they had a choice to belong to "physical reality" or to "faith," they understood some things very clearly. They clearly understood they did not fit in this unjust world. They clearly understood they belonged in a place where only righteousness (the purest form of justice) exists. They clearly understood that while they did not belong here, there was a place they would belong. Though the physical world thought they were stupid, God was not ashamed of them. God cherished them so much that he prepared a place of righteousness for them--a place where they always would know they belonged.

Find your significance in God. Find your insignificance in God. Know you "belong" in God's presence. Measure yourself by your faith, not your possessions, position, or power. Never "belong" in an unjust world. Always "belong" to a righteous God.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 19 September 2004

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