My Bible has a permanent crease at Hebrews 11, the "Faith Hall of Fame" chapter. I'd love to say it's because I'm just so holy that I read that chapter every day, but it's really because that's just how my Bible seems to have been made. (Maybe that's a sign that I should be reading that every day.) Hebrews 11 is the perfect testimony of the faithful, that great cloud of witnesses, but one phrase in particular always stands out, and that's v. 38a: "the world was not worthy of them."
Officially this refers to the martyrs described in vv. 35b-40. These are the ones who were imprisoned, killed, exiled, beaten, and otherwise persecuted for the cause of Christ. Their faith was beyond question; their holiness was great. Such were these men and women that the author of Hebrews says, in essence, "They were too good for this world. This evil world didn't deserve to have them walk on its surface." Again, "the world was not worthy of them."
That's the verse I want on my tombstone, but I have a lot of work to do if that is to be true. That's the real purpose of this chapter in Scripture: to give us examples, heroes and heroines, whom we can emulate. Superman turned eighty this year, but why want to be Superman when you could be Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab . . . the list goes on. Do we truly see these people in that light, though? Do we truly understand how great, how important they are? Do we want to be like them? Are we willing to share their level of faith? And, if it came down to it, would we go to our deaths, be tortured and killed, for following Jesus?
We were not made for this world. We are pilgrims and strangers here. Let us never feel too at home, but let us always look to our real country and strive to be a citizen there.