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The Cloud of Witnesses

by Gary Knuckles

The Citadel is a military college with a great history. Many of its alumni have served our country with distinction in military service as well as in other fields of endeavor. Each cadet receives a gold ring at graduation that not only identifies his/her graduating class, but has various emblems engraved on it to symbolize some aspect of the school and its traditions. When a graduate of the Citadel passes away, the ring is returned to the school, melted and mixed with the gold that will form a new ring for graduating cadets. This new ring represents a hope for the future, but it also acknowledges the past and the traditions that are unique to that school. In a sense, the graduate takes with them the glorious history of those who have gone before and provides encouragement to live up to a high standard.

In Hebrews 12:1, the Hebrew writer admonishes the brethren to remember those who have gone before them (Hebrews 11) and encourages them to follow through with their commitment of faith. Having recounted the examples of these great examples, he writes, “Seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us,  and run with patience the race that is set before us.” In other words, “be encouraged by these examples from the past and move on to greater things.”

The examples of the faithful in Hebrews 11 is an interesting list. Not so much because of the persons named and not just because they were obedient to God. For some, it was faith demonstrated in the midst of adversity. For others, it was faith demonstrated in a time of great doubt. Still, others showed their faith by the firmness of their conviction when compromise would have relieved them of a great burden. Regardless, all of them overcame serious challenges to their faith, but managed to overcome.

God doesn’t hand out gold rings and, when a Christian dies, there is nothing to pass on except...the memory of a great faith lived out before the world. An example that can encourage others to go forward in the face of great difficulties. Just like the example Jesus left us, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” (Hebrews 12:2,3)

Each cadet who graduates from the Citadel carries with them a reminder of who they are and what they represent...the best of the best. Each Christian is also given a reminder that there is a glorious past and the future holds the hope of greater things. Christian, you are being watched! Go forth in honor!

 

Gary Knuckles is minister of the Briensburg, KY Church of Christ.




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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 corinthians 1:3-4