It's hidden there, in the middle of Hebrews, chapter 11. In that great roll call of faith it is easy to miss. Just a little phrase, but one of amazing import. Imagine this being said of you. "God is not ashamed to be called their God." (Heb 11:16)
What kind of person did it take to receive this accolade? The phrase actually starts with the word "therefore." Someone once said, "any time you see the word "therefore," you should see what it is there for." We can look at the people whose names preceded this phrase to see what their attitudes were.
"By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous. (v. 4)" All my life I have heard debates about what it was that made Abel's sacrifice more acceptable than Cain's. Some have said that it was because Cain's was a fruit sacrifice, and Abel's was animals. We don't know that, because the scriptures don't say. What we do know is that he offered his sacrifice by faith, and that made it more excellent.
We don't know what kind of sacrifice God demanded. It is obvious that He had at least demanded some kind of offering. What we can be sure about is that, whatever the offering, God is not as concerned about what it is as with how it is offered. When King Saul disobeyed God in the matter of Agag the Amalekite, Samuel told him (1 Sam 15:22), "Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." It is the attitude of obedience that God wants, even more than mindless compliance. And so it was that Abel offered his sacrifice; in an attitude of faith.
Can a dead man speak? He is able, if he is Abel. And even now he speaks of faith. God is not ashamed to be called Abel's God, for Abel was a man of attitude-the right attitude.
What do we know about Enoch? He was the father of Methuselah of 939-years-of-age fame. He did not die, because "God took him" (Gen 5:24). God took him because he walked with God. But what does it mean that he walked with God?
The writer of Hebrews adds (11:5) that he "pleased" God, and that faith is required to do so. He further defines that faith as believing both that God exists and that God rewards. This, then, is how he walked with God. He knew God existed, but more than this, he knew God would take him home to a heavenly country.
Jude further explains that Enoch was a prophet of God. His prophecy had to do with judgment, and "and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." (Jude 15) Among the ungodly's of this verse is a condemnation of those who spoke against God. Enoch not only believed in God, he stood up to those who would deny him. Enoch was not ashamed to call God his God, so God was not ashamed to be called Enoch's God.
Imagine God appearing to you and telling you to prepare for something, and you have no idea what he is talking about, because it has never happened before. There is no word for it, because it is something that doesn't exist. During the 150 years that you are preparing for it, you take a lot of ridicule, but barely know how to warn them of what is coming, because you can't describe it yourself.
That is exactly what happened to Noah. "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house." (Heb 11:7) Noah prepared to leave his home and live for a couple of years in a mobile home shared with a zoo. He didn't even know where he would end up. In fact, for all he knew his mobile home might never leave the driveway, if his source was wrong. But Noah didn't worry about that. He trusted the one who told him to build.
Not only did Noah build when told. He warned the people around him, even though they could not understand what was coming. The flood didn't matter, though. Noah may not even have been able to warn of the flood. He was able to preach what could prevent the flood. That is why Peter (2 Pet 2:5) calls him a "preacher of righteousness." It wasn't the threat of the flood that Noah presented to his contemporaries, it was obedience to God.
Abraham and Sara
He was a son of a man who had left the corporate world. His father had packed up the house and moved from the great city to a small town some time after Abraham's marriage, and Abraham had to go with him. Then after a few years, Abraham got the call. "Leave your father in his new home. You are going somewhere else. Sorry, I can't tell you where right now, but pack your bags."
At least in the Navy I had the luxury of being able to give my preferences before I was transferred. Abraham not only didn't get to express a preference, he had to move on "sealed orders." And yet this man who barely knew God, who had been moved by his father from his original home, moved yet again. When we would get orders to isolated duty where we couldn't take our families, the phrase was that "the Navy didn't issue you a wife with your sea bag." Abram, as he was known at the time, faced the same situation, but he did not know if he would ever get back. His orders weren't for just two years. His father would live another sixty years, but he apparently would never see him again.
In addition to all of that, he bought a tent for the travel, and lived in it for the next hundred years. No more houses. No more closets and cabinets. Not even a garage in which to store his junk. Just a tent, a troublesome nephew, and his herds. (And some household employees, one of whom would prove more troublesome than the nephew.)
Abram packed his tent, and left his father's house. He had his orders, and he followed them. He would continue to follow them for the rest of his life, even at the threat of losing his only son. He went where he was told, because he knew that he had a permanent home waiting for him when he retired from this world.
And what about Sara, his wife? She followed him when he received his orders. Twenty-five years later, still childless and ninety years old, she listened as her hundred-year-old husband was told that within a year they would have a child. Granted her husband had fathered a child just a few years before, but she had never conceived. But she believed God, when He said she would have a child. Because of this she "received strength" (Heb 11:11) to have a child at that advanced age.
You and Me
"But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God" (Heb 11:16) Ultimately, the reason that God was not ashamed to be called their God was because they did not consider this world their home. They looked for their real home, and didn't look back.
There are situations, however, when God will be ashamed of us. "For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels." (Luke 9:26)
There are, then, a couple of attitudes we must have. We must remember that we have another city waiting for us; we are only here for a short time. Also, for God not to be ashamed to be called our God, we must not be ashamed to call him our God. Now, who wants God to be ashamed of them?