What a remarkable era we live in.
On the one hand, we watch in agonised dismay as the world writhes in agony as it awaits its final redemption, yet on the other, we exist in an almost unparalleled era of gospel-centred resurgence experienced in the church since the Great Awakening. With the advent of the digital publishing age has come a torrent of resources that magnify and reflect the glories of our great King and Lord. Champions of the faith speak from ever increasing platforms, declaring the mystery of the gospel and extolling the splendour of the sovereignty of our God. Gospel loving, and gospel preaching, churches are springing up all over the known world. And despite the challenges, despite the gates of hell and all Satan's futile fury, Jesus is building his church!
I truly count myself fortunate to live in this blessed age, and if our Lord has resolved to not return for 1000 years more, future generations may very well look back on this age with tender thoughts and thankfulness as we do the generation of men like Edwards and his contemporaries.
I recently received a forward invite to speak at a conference, sharing the platform with two well-known international conference speakers, both men held in high regard in their own circles and looked up to by thousands. I was at once thrilled and petrified. I mean, I'm a nobody. You are probably one of a few dozen who may read this post, whereas the men I'm speaking about speak into large contexts and hold significant influence. Maybe I shouldn't, but I feel somewhat overawed at the prospect of following such men into the pulpit.
Now, I know the dangers of the celebrity culture. I've felt the sting when the pedestal topples and our shining heroes appear before us tainted with the same stains that mark our sinful hearts. Yet the fact remains, we walk among giants.
As I've reflected on my own fickle hearted response to the possibility of sharing ministry with such giants of the contemporary church, the Lord directed my considerations to Hebrews 11. The problem is not that we hold a few in high esteem, the problem is that we hold too few in high esteem. Hebrews 11 reads as a role call revealing the giants of the faith that have gone before us. The writer doesn't admonish us for considering them, nor does he apologise for recalling their names and contribution to our understanding of faith in God. Instead, he deliberately places them before us, asking us to consider them with appraising eyes.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV)—Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Yes, we walk among giants; they have much to teach us. Men and women of canonical history who walked the life of faith, men and women of church history who have set the example of what it means to deny themselves and take up the cross of our Lord, and men and women who walk among us—some known by thousands, but many who are only known by a few. We are called to consider their lives, yet we are exhorted to fix our eyes on only one.
The heroes of our tribe may be giants of the faith, but there is only one object of our faith—fix your eyes on Jesus.
If it works out that I share the platform with some of my heroes, I will most likely be trembling. However, my prayer (and I would ask for your prayers on my behalf) is that I would tremble not in the presence of giants, but in the awesome presence of the one in whose name I'll speak.
Learn from the giants in whose presence we walk, but fix your gaze on the Lamb of God, and for eternity you will never tire of the view.