We Love History for the Personalities
If you know anything about me, you know that history is my passion. I absolutely love it! I’m currently studying it as my major, I read history books for fun, I watch history documentaries. I even have this calendar in my room that tells me about a specific historical event that happened on any given day.
Now, I know how nerdy this sounds and I completely accept the fact that I’m a total history nerd. But there’s a reason why I love to study history so much. As my history professor Dr. Crispell described it, “We love history for the personalities.” What he means by this is that history intrigues many of us because of the historical figures we study. This especially applies to me. Why I love to study history is because I realize the importance of these people. Washington, Hamilton, Lincoln, Roosevelt, JFK, MLK; these were real people. They truly lived on this earth. They experienced many of the same things we do. Although they accomplished incredible feats, they were still human beings. The problem we so often have is that we see them as simply fictional characters because they lived so far in the past.
This truth extends to biblical figures as well. Of course, we believe the people in the Bible were real, but at times we fall into the trap of viewing them as simply fictional characters. And this is a dangerous thing for two reasons. For one, if we do not truly realize that these people lived, we miss out on so many opportunities to learn from their lives. For another, we may forget that these people were human, who struggled with sin as much as we do, and instead we put them on a pedestal just because they accomplished incredible feats.
Take Abraham for example. Abraham lived so far in the past that it’s hard to truly comprehend that he was real. We so often portray him as a great man of faith, and rightfully so. Hebrews 11 describes him as such.
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
And later in verses 17-19:
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.
These two acts of Abraham took a tremendous amount of faith. He left his homeland just because God said go. He offered up Isaac, his only son, believing that God would still keep the promises of land, nation, and seed. The problem is, however, we don’t truly consider that Abraham was human like us. Because his life was lived so far in the past, we sometimes forget he truly lived it. We don’t truly apply Abraham’s actions to our lives as much as we should because he was the great man of faith. He seems to be a different breed of man, one so far from us, so much holier than we could ever be. But once again, Abraham was human just like we are! If this man could have such faith in his God, and act upon his faith, we can as well.
Ultimately, just as Abraham lived on this earth, so did our Lord. Jesus wasn’t some fictional character, but a truly historical figure. The difference between Him and people like Abraham, Washington, or even us is that Christ isn’t simply human. As it says in John 1.1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And later in verse 14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…”
He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn 14.6). Our Savior and our Redeemer. Our God and our King. Greater than any historical figure. He can save you too, if you do as He commands.