Text: Hebrews 12:1-17
“let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
– Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV
The Christian life is not a 5k. (Pretty please, will one of you write a Christian living book and make that the title? Thank you and you’re welcome.)
Faith is a long distance race. It is not the kind you can conquer couch-to-finish-line style in 8 weeks or less, but it’s the kind that requires discipline and training, a life of practice, stick-to-it-ness and devotion. If there is one thing we hear the author of Hebrews saying in this chapter of his letter, it’s that the Christian faith is not for the faint of heart.
The thing is, sometimes I feel fainthearted. Do you?
Here’s the good news: the person writing this letter to the Hebrews is not surprised that the they are feeling winded in their faith race. He wouldn’t be surprised that you and I sometimes feel that way, too.
Here’s the better news: He’s about to give us the pep talk we need to keep going. But unlike standard locker room encouragement, it is founded on the very truth of God.
Try to imagine hearing these words as a first century Hebrew who believes in Jesus, standing alongside your fellow believing yet struggling friends…
This race you’re running? A long list of others have run it before you. You just read through many of their names in this letter — Abraham and Moses, Sarah and Rahab. Can you hear them? They’re cheering you on as you run!
The stuff that slows you down? Throw it off. It’s not worth it. When you get to the finish line, you won’t even miss it.
Your team leader? Oh, it’s just Jesus himself, no big deal. He ran the race before you too, just like the others, but He surpasses them all. It was pretty awful for Him, but He ran and He won. And now HE is your coach, your Helper. He is the One running before you and beside you and behind you. And best of all? He’s your prize.
Look, I know training is tough and the course can be excruciatingly difficult. No one knows that better than your Coach. But who better to train you, to discipline you, to mold you into the runner He is than the One who not only ran the race but designed the course? He knows what’s ahead; He knows what you need, and He will supply it.
Just. Keep. Running.
“Suffering can be the trowel which digs deeply in the soil of our lives, so that the plan of peaceful righteousness—a life of settled commitment to live as God’s new covenant people—may have its roots deep in the love of God.”
– NT Wright