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Shepherd of Hermes, (catacombs c. 160)

The Shepherd of Hermas, written c.125 AD, repeatedly declares that the Church has always existed, since the beginning of creation. The Old Testament believers are joined by those in the New Testament Christians in one single community of faith. Paul asserts that this faith unites us with each other; that we all have a common calling. (Hebrews 11.)

It seems you share a familiar bond, perhaps closer than you think, with Abraham, Noah or Isaiah. All of the OT saints are welded to us as we walk out our faith in Jesus. Personally I find that comforting.

God has always had a people who have been “chosen.” As a broken believer I will take all the godly encouragement I can. We are pulled in so many different directions; it’s hard sometimes to cope. Knowing I walk in an “unbroken line” of the faithful gives me “vim and vigor.”

I can now more deeply relate to guys like Joseph, who faithfully followed God from slave-to-prince. Or the three Hebrew children who walked around in the fiery furnace. By faith we possess the same hope as they did, we have the same God and Father. I believe it wouldn’t be off-base to call them family.

The nuances become clearer as we reflect on our mental illnesses. Noah built an ark. I’m constructing a sane mind. He went through the jeering abuse from his neighbors. I have to decide to get out of bed. All must be done through faith. Faith in God unites us. Faith is that which gives us “a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7.) Faith in God connects me with Noah.

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.”

Hebrews 11:1-2, NLT

Hebrews 11 connects our faith with theirs. It even hints that our own faith enhances their own.

“All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. 40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.”

Hebrews 11:39-40

I didn’t mean to dump a load of “dry theology” on you. But I suspect that there could be healing for us if we venture to take it up. Good theology can be like good hygiene, if you don’t have it you will notice. (So will your friends.) I have come to see that the things we believe, affect us in significant and profound ways.

Your 21st century struggle of faith is as significant as David’s own battle with Goliath. It’s something to consider anyway. Read Hebrews 11.

“Faith makes all things possible… love makes all things easy.” 

D.L. Moody

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