Others Devotional, volume 11
The Unseen Company by Pat Rainbow
Scripture: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” Hebrews 12:1
Do you belong to a church that recites (at least from time to time) the “Apostles Creed”? This is a statement of faith that presumably has its roots in the confession of the early church. One of the phrases in particular is of interest to me here. Have you ever wondered what “the communion of saints” means? For some, this word “saints” may conjure up visions of holy ones who have been designated as saints by an official decree. For others, they may think of those who are now in heaven. But the Bible is clear in attaching this designation to all those who belong to Christ, Christians. (Acts 9:31-32 reports that Peter visited the “saints” who were living in Lydda, in the region of Judea. Paul regularly addresses his readers as “the saints” in the salutation of his letters.) So, is this how we are to view ourselves and one another, imperfect as we are, prone to selfishness and sin? The Bible’s answer is “yes.” Not because we are worthy in ourselves to be designated as such, but on the basis of our faith in the One who is worthy.
n our 7th grade Bible classes we are memorizing a whole chapter of the book of Hebrews. In this chapter, the writer lists those who are sometimes called “heroes of the faith.” However, a close examination of these “heroes” and “saints” reveals that they were weak and unworthy to be considered so on the basis of their own achievements. They had many failings. Some of them were outsiders, the unpopular ones, even those who were on the wrong side of the law, rejected by their communities and threatened by the authorities. “Some faced jeers and floggings, while still others were chained and put in prison” (Hebrews 11:36). Some were rejected because of their poverty – the “homeless” of the day? “They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated” (Hebrews 11:37b). How often do we look at these types of people in our community and assume “They aren’t like us. They must not be of the family of God,” and we go on our way, not bothering to reach out, to be kind, to meet a need. We cannot know by looking on the outside whether one is part of the community of believers, but Paul tells the Galatians Christians “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:9, 10).
How do we not grow weary when it may seem so difficult to do what is right, especially if it is unseen or unappreciated? The book of Hebrews helps us here, too. Chapter 12 begins by reminding us that we are surrounded by saints who have gone before us, who have faithfully run their race by fixing their “eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. Who, for the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3). It is in this community – the communion of saints – that we stand by one another seeking to do good to others, to encourage, show kindness, obey God’s word, follow even when it’s hard or everyone else seems to be going the opposite direction. We are to be this communion of saints to one another, certainly, but even when we think we are alone, we are to look to Jesus and to those who have gone before and remember that it’s not just about us, but there are others who have run the race faithfully, and by God’s grace we, too, will reap the reward of faith – eternal life and blessings in his presence forever.
Prayer: Lord, help us do good to others, loving and encouraging them, not based on what we see on the outside, but with eyes of faith and selflessness. We are unworthy to be called “saints,” but that is what we are in Christ. You have made us so by purchasing us with your precious blood. So, help us leave behind anything that gets in the way of persevering in the race of our faith. Amen
About the Author: Mrs. Rainbow teaches 7th grade Bible and 7th and 8th grade Spanish at CVCMS. She loves reading, sewing, and spending time with friends. And, oh yeah, she LOVES her students!
Originally published on November 18, 2016.