By Brooke Holt
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
For many years, I worked as a triathlon and running coach. Each training season was focused on one race, and all the unique aspects of that race. While races varied based on the geography, the length, and demands, training always included the same components.
The first component of any season was building a base of endurance. Whether it was a 5k or a Half Ironman, athletes had to train their bodies and their minds to continue through some bodily discomfort. The second component of every season was that we trained with the end in sight. Weeks, months, and daily regimens were all created based on race day. Beyond the focus of training was the focus of the eyes. Athletes were always to look ahead. Far too much time and energy get wasted when athletes look behind them or around them. Finally, athletes always sought to race in clothing that would not hinder them in any way. Even in cold temperatures, the fabrics were fitted and light. The last thing an athlete needs on race day is extra weight!
The writer of Hebrews is providing a training regimen for Christians. He does so through the example of Jesus who lived his life with endurance, focus, simplicity, and incredible determination. Jesus would not be deterred by sin or by the people around him. There was one agenda for his life, and that was the agenda of his Father.
What is amazing about the life and work of Jesus is that you were the goal set before him; you were there at that finish line. Jesus lived a holy and sinless life then offered himself as the perfect sacrifice for your sins. When he wanted to give up, he thought of you. When it felt like too much, he saw you. You were the great finish line for Jesus. You were the “joy that was set before him as he endured the cross” (verse 2).
You are that valuable to the Lord, that loved, worth the life and death of Jesus Christ. When you question (and all people do) your worth, look at the cross. See what Jesus did for you. Then break free from the lies that come against you and stand firm on the truth that you are of infinite worth to the Lord. Like the great athletes, you must embrace your own training protocol. Build the base of endurance for your faith through studying the Scriptures. Discipline yourself daily with the end in sight. You are a child of the King and will dwell with him in eternal light and holiness. Practice today for the day you see him face to face. Stop comparing yourself to others and embrace who God made you to be. Exercise your unique gifts to build the kingdom of God and to glorify him. Finally, stay in the process of transformation, becoming more and more like Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. Then the weight of sin will fall from you, and you can run free!
There is nothing like seeing the finish line at the end of a race. Just imagine the final finish line when you cross into the kingdom of God. Every bit of training here on this earth will be worth it when you hear the Father say, “well done my good and faithful child”.
How does knowing that you were the joy set before Jesus encourage you today? What spiritual disciplines could you embrace today to prepare you for that final day? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a small group Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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