It was my parents who first taught me about Jesus. I can still remember them reading stories to me from my children's Bible about folks like Abraham and King David and the twelve disciples and Paul and, of course, Jesus. These stories warmed my heart. But more importantly, God's Word saved my soul.
As I grew older, and my faith grew deeper, I continued to learn about Jesus. In high school, an unbelieving friend tested my faith. So I studied and consulted one of my teachers until I found transcendent answers to her objections. In college, I had a professor who taught me New Testament Greek. His love for God's Word gave me a deeper appreciation for Scripture than I could have ever imagined. In seminary, a pastor took it upon himself to mentor through a very difficult season in my life. If it weren't for him, I probably wouldn't be a pastor today. Over and over again, from my parents to my teachers to my professors to my pastors, I have been taught God's Word and have had my faith stretched and deepened. It is because of these people that I am who I am today.
"Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith" (verse 7). Such is the exhortation of the preacher of Hebrews in our reading for today from Hebrews 13. And this is an exhortation we would do well to take to heart. For we all have leaders in the faith - those who have gone ahead of us and have gladly, willingly, and freely shared their wisdom, knowledge, and insight with us to help us grow in our faith. It is these people we are to remember.
Sadly, we all too often fail to honor these people. Past mentors all too easily become forgotten relics of a bygone era. The less we see them, talk to them, and ask for their counsel, the less often they come to mind and the less often we thank God for their influence on our lives. And yet, their teaching is just as valuable today as when they first shared it with us. For the author of Hebrews continues by reminding us, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (verse 8). In other words, the doctrines of Christ do not change because Jesus does not change. Thus, true doctrine that we are taught at the age of two is just as true when we recall it at the age of eighty. The people who taught it to us, therefore, are to be remembered and celebrated.
Who has led and mentored you in your faith that you can remember? Was it a pastor? A parent? A professor? A friend? Today, write that person a card or send them an email or give them a call or take them to lunch and thank them for the formative influence they have had on your life. "Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God of to you." And then, lead someone else. Mentor someone else. For even as you were led, others need your leading. For leading someone in the faith by God's Word can change a life - and even change an eternity.