Abraham, Noah, Moses, and the saints of old walked forward with God in head-scratching obedience. Noah builds an ancient Titanic. Abraham logs more steps than a Fitbit can handle. Moses stood up to a political superpower. How? By faith.
Hebrews 11—The Hall of Faith—catalogs for us the ways our biblical ancestors lived by faith with our great God and Savior. But, I have a quibble.
Let’s stop calling it the Hall of Faith.
It’s plain to see the connections. Hall of Fame, ah, Hall of Faith. But a Christian-spin-cycle on a cultural shrine and a low-hanging play on words isn’t always helpful to understanding the Kingdom of Christ. Blessed are the meek. Blessed are those who take the seat at the end of the table, and the ones who aren’t always yelling shotgun in the parking lot of the world.
A Hall of Fame riff toward a Hall of Faith doesn’t compute with the ways of our meek Messiah. It smells clever but is undercooked in its meaning.
Why Halls Exist
The problem with the comparing a basketball, baseball, or football, or rock-and-roll Hall of Fame with Hebrews 11 is that Halls of Fame exist to elevate and separate. Halls of Fame extract the best from the ordinary, the unimpressive, the forgettable, the duds. This is fine for sports and music but not fit for the Kingdom.
The Hall of Fame doesn’t exist to inspire your imitation. It reminds you of someone else’s greatness, their accomplishments, and how only an elite few can ever reach this status. I can’t imitate Michael Jordan. I can try but I look silly jumping to the
rim net with my tongue out.
Why Hebrews 11 Exists
But, Hebrews 11 exists for your imitation. God didn’t give us this section of the Bible for us to think, “Look at these great followers of God. I’ll never be like them.” Chapter 11 is filed for our imitation. The barrage of by faiths is there to weave us together, join us in the story of God’s glory—not bronze the heads of saints before our eyes.
Hebrews 11 doesn’t exist to museum-ify those who came before us. It is there to motivate and encourage us that if these folks could live by faith, so can we. We know Christ! Our biblical ancestors and their stat lines show us that by faith, we too can endure and walk with God—we can look to the crucified and risen Lord Jesus and endure with him till the end.
Since we have this cloud of witnesses as our pedigree, our family tree, “Let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:1–2 CSB). The Hall of Fame doesn’t move me toward holiness—but faith in Jesus does. It changes us forever.
The Hall of Fame, in every sport, is an incredible but temporal accomplishment. By faith we look to a heavenly city where duds, the forgotten, the overlooked, are welcome by faith in Christ’s accomplishments. His and his alone.