There is something that tugs at our heart when we hear stories of people who have stood where we are standing. Maybe it is just the encouragement that they accomplished it, maybe it is the blessing that they are not perfect either, or maybe it just helps us relate to others when we hear they went through similar trials; but there is something that moves us when we hear the stories of other people's lives.
We see this modeled in the Scriptures. We see the lives of individuals explained in detail. Sometimes they are given just a verse or two; other times their lives are explained in entire books. We see the good, the bad, and the ugly of God's people. We even have an entire chapter of the Bible dedicated to recounting the highlights of many people.
Hebrews 11 has traditionally been called the "Hall of Faith." It reminds us of the story of men like Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and countless other followers of God. Their faith in their God is not something that is meant to be static in our life. It has been written down to moves us. To change us. To impact us. As you move on from Hebrews 11, we are told that their model of faithfulness should be a motivating factor for our faithful commitment to Jesus in this Christian race (12:1-3). We run this Christian race with them in the crowd cheering us on.
But this "cloud of witnesses" is not limited to the people mentioned in Hebrews 11. It includes those who have run and finished the Christian race before us. It is those whose shoulders we now stand on to promote the name of Jesus Christ. It doesn't matter whether they lived hundreds or even thousands of years ago, our Christian faith has been influenced by those who have run before us, even if we do not recognize it yet.
Reading the stories of other Christian's lives can bring great encouragement to your walk with Christ. It can be motivating and humbling to see how God used other men and women in the past. And it could be exciting to see how He could use you as well. Reading their stories can change us.
Unfortunately, I believe most Christians are unaware of those that have run before them. We have become a culture that cares not for those who have gone before us. We are ignorant of church history and of those who have impacted the faith we say we have today. I wish this would change.
Tomorrow I will share some of the places I go to find short biographical stories of the great men and women of the faith. I hope these resources might be helpful if you choose to start learning about the men and women who have shaped Christianity as it is today.