Thank God for good examples. We need people who give us a positive pattern for life on planet Earth.
Scripture is filled with stories of giants of the faith, and good role models also exist in today’s world. The key is to find the right example and follow it. By so doing, we become good examples for others.
William Willimon, Professor of the Practice of Christian Ministry at Duke Divinity School has written of good examples, whom he calls “saints”:
“Saints are people who manage to love God more than life itself. They manage to love neighbor more than self and thereby find true life. Saints are people who just push their way into our modest present and make the God-question and the neighbor-question the only interesting intellectual questions.
Christians are those who’ve learned to think with the saints, and thereby we think much more creatively than we could if we’d been left to our own devices.
St. Francis, Martin Luther King, Teresa of Calcutta, Gideon, Mary–they help us to think beyond ourselves. They help us to think despite ourselves and thereby, in this act of holy remembering and saintly thinking, new options are envisioned. We are encouraged; a new world not of our own devising is offered to us. We get some big ideas. Torah and the saintly lives thereby produced is a kind of intelligence by proxy.”
Saints make the “God-question and the neighbor-question the only interesting intellectual questions.” Consider the deep meaning of that phrase. When we look at the lives of those who have set an exquisite example of Christian living, we realize that there are only two important questions: How will we love God, our creator? And…How will we love our neighbor, our fellow creature? The lives of the saints stand out to us, because in answering these questions, the saints have prominently and permanently impacted our world for good.
While it is beneficial that we are able to follow the lives of the saints as examples, we must also recognize the world’s great need for more saints, new saints. Who will fill that role? Every true follower of Jesus Christ!
It is time we learned to “think with the saints.” It is time that we became role models for all those who follow, showing them a changed world as a result of our love for God and neighbor.
Yours in faith,