This Weeks Memory Verse: Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
This Weeks Passage: Hebrews 12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
So I’ve been up in the stands before rooting for my favorite team and favorite players. You have too. Sometimes the fans are on their feet applauding a great play. Sometimes they are trying to cheer their team on to greatness. Sometimes stunned to silence by lackluster play. Sometimes silenced because of worry due to injury. And sometimes vigorously booing because their team just stinks.
So I’m trying to imagine this cloud of witnesses from Hebrews 11 who are in the celestial stands watching me compete (so to speak) in the 2011 Spiritual Olympics. Are they on their feet? Are they stunned to silence? Are they on the verge of walking out? This passage begs the question, “How am I doing as I run the race that God has called me to?” Am I running well? Is the crowd on their feet or have they been silenced? Are they murmuring among themselves about the pitiful performance they are watching?
This is a picture I need to keep in mind so that I take seriously the rest of this passage and work diligently to run a great race. I have a tendency to get lazy and if I am not careful or deliberate then I fall into bad exercise habits – both physically and spiritually. Here are a few thoughts about the passage…
“throw off EVERYTHING that hinders” – this would be the stuff in my life that is not sinful – just not helpful. Even good things can be a hindrance. I would say that I have thrown off some things that hinder but not EVERYTHING. So difficult to do in the culture in which we live.
“the sin that so easily entangles” – Reminds me of the phrase “O what a tangled web we weave…” We (and by we I mean me) kind of play with sin. Flirt with it. Not realizing that all the while it is entangling me. And by the time I realize it, it is messy. So I end up trying to run this race for God with ropes wrapped around my legs. No wonder I get tripped up.
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus” – I can’t even begin to tell you how easily distracted I get. Probably the thing that commands my undivided attention more than anything is a good movie – especially a riveting drama. And yet the gospels portray a a drama that is second to none – one that involves action, adventure, romance, and even some comedy. Me thinks I need to read the story of Jesus again “for the first time.”
“for the joy set before him” – One of the hardest things I’ve ever done is run a sprint triathlon (a 1 mile swim, 12 mile bike ride, and 3.1 mile run). I can remember pushing through the pain at the end, telling myself to just keep moving because of the joy I would have in finishing the race – which was true. I felt incredibly satisfied to accomplish my goal of completing the race. And yet this feeling will not come close to comparing to the JOY of crossing the finish line upon death and hearing the thunderous applause of heaven. Again as we ponder these passages I seem to be reminded to keep the goal of heaven ever present in my mind as I push toward the finish line.
“Consider Him” – Is there anything that I have ever gone through that even comes close to what Jesus went through on my behalf? I think not! But consider Him! Have I ever been mocked and spit on by an angry crowd? I think not! But consider Him! Have my friends ever denied knowing me because they were ashamed of me? I think not! But consider Him! Have I ever been stripped naked and nailed to a cross? I think not! But consider Him! Have I ever felt the wrath of God fall upon me because my sin so completely repulsed and disgusted Him? I think not! But consider Him! When I intentionally take the time to “consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men” I am forced to make a life transforming decision: Am I willing to surrender my allegiance to Jesus knowing that I may be called upon to endure what he endured OR do I just pack it in and say I’m not willing to pay that kind of price?
“grow weary and lose heart” – It is easy to start something strong and with enthusiasm, it is another thing to finish something strong. It is so easy to get tired and discouraged and distracted – especially in a race that can be so painful and difficult at times. I’m reminded again by these verses that not only do we need Jesus to finish strong but we also need each other to finish strong. We cannot run the race alone. We were not meant to run the race the alone. We need the Holy Spirit to empower us daily from within. We need the crowd of witnesses to cheer us on from afar. And we need the encouragement from those running the race with us to finish the way that we started.
I’d love to hear what grabbed you as you pondered this passage. You can post your comments by clicking on the bubble at the top right. But if you have questions or thoughts that you don’t want to post but want to dialogue about then feel free to e-mail me at sreyner@Ridgecrest.cc.
Next weeks passage: John 15:1-8
Next weeks memory verse: John 15:5