Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, (Hebrews 12:1-2a NRSV)
This week I am going to look at how looking to the past examples of Christian life can help and is a biblical principle to help you run the race of life. Not looking back at past events in your life and dwelling on the past sin in your life because that can only cause stumbles and falls back into that sin.
Legacy is a Cheerleader
What we read in Hebrews here is that we are ‘surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…’ (Heb. 12:1a) What is meant by these witnesses? What is this word? Is witnesses the best translation? What does it mean??
The Greek word here is μαρτυρος.
μαρτυρος is translated as witnesses and it is were we get the word martyr. A Martyr bore witness to the faith. It is also linked to the word μαρτυρια that means testimony.
So I believe that this is the same thing that We are surrounded by witnesses. A bunch of examples to follow while following Jesus but also there is a difference between example and testimony. Example shows you how to live and provides strategies to walk in your life. Testimony is a cheer a loud cry to encourage you to show that God is still moving and God has done it once so he can do it again. Holy Spirit knows what you need and how minister to you through other people’s stories.
I remember when I was 17/18 I went through quite deep depression and this is not just feeling down. We are talking close to suicidal thoughts. I then heard the story of Nick Vujicic. He is a man that was born without arms and legs. I remember watching a video of his testimony. It stirred my heart because he as a young boy thought of suicide and all he had to do was roll over in the bath. However, he turned to the bible and read this:
Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind” Jesus said, “Your asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. (John 9:1-3 MSG)
Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; He was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. (John 9:3 NRSV)
He realised that that God has made him the way he has been made to do God’s Glory. I doubt he will read this blog but if he does. I wanna thank him for that testimony because I kept me going that God was teaching me something in that time in that dark season it was producing something.
We boast in our suffering, knowing that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Rom. 5:3-5 NRSV)
There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! (Rom. 5:3-5 MSG)
I am including both versions here because both have different resonance in the NRSV translation shows exactly what Paul is stating but those words can be very loaded and difficult to get a grip around so the message paraphrase uses more emotive language that shows the strength of character is like that of steel. Character is our back bone. Character and Authenticity is what the church should be marked with. No more double lives. No more hypocrisy. No more judging on what people wear and say.
Shake it off, Shake it off
let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us (Heb. 12:1b)
This second half of verse one is also very important. We look to those in that have gone before us to see how they deal with temptation and sin. I look to other people who have struggle with singleness to help me with my singleness. I look to other people who have struggle with sexual sin to close the door to sexual sin.
The thing I want to pick out here though is that there is a something we miss in this verse. We as a Global church often pray that God takes our sin away. However, what we see here is ‘let US lay aside’ We see that God helps us defeat sin but it is also our responsibility to take it out and throw it away.
I choice not to watch porn and throw that sin away. I choice not to smoke everyday because it doesn’t honour the body God has given me. When we shake off sin with God’s strength it stays off if we keep turning to him in times of temptation. Remember if you do it with the christ you will be free because the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:36 NRSV)
This what they calling running the race with perseverance. The race of life. the race of sanctification. The race to Glory. The examples and testimony of the past encourage us and cheer for us like a crowd cheers for a football team. Like fans at the side of a marathon.
A Loving Stare
looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. (Heb 12:2a)
We see here that we are to look to Jesus while running this race. I wanna make sure that we understand its a continuous word here. We don’t look t Jesus to get saved and then run the race on our own. It’s run the race with our eyes FIX ON JESUS. In the same way that a kid keeps its eyes fixed on a parent when running into their arms. This is how we should run the race of faith.
Keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus means we do everything above because if we are focused on Jesus. The saints of the past are reflexing the Glory of Christ. The more we focus on Jesus the more we are able to resist temptation because you won’t even see it. It won’t distract you. Jesus is and should always be your focus not the temptation in front of you.
A 110m hurdler doesn’t focus on the hurdles he focuses on the finish line because if he focuses on the hurdles they automatically run into them and get too close to jump over them.
Look to the past for inspiration and example on how to run the race of faith. Take responsibility for your sin and throw it into God’s eternal fire with God’s help. Finally, Fix your eyes on Jesus because he will complete the work that he started in you and if you keep focused on him. You will resist sin and the Father will say you are my son in you I am very please.