Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joyawaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
We have an important race before us. A vitally important task. We might be feeling trepidation, fear, self-confidence, anxiety, at such a task! We know it will involve pain, suffering, perhaps even failure.
We know the task is, humanly speaking, impossible!
But what is God asking us to focus on? The race? Our selves? Our sin?
He is asking us to focus on a person, on our Lord Jesus Christ! What kind of God would give of Himself in such a way? Making Himself the author and finisher of our faith?
Let’s remember who our God is…
He spoke the universe into existence, and yet He still walked in the garden with His creation.
In response to Man’s rebellion, he promises a rescuer!
He even provided clothing for Adam and Eve.
He promised to crush Satan under His heel.
He closed the door of the ark, saving Noah and His family.
He created his chosen people from broken, fallen man, when He could have easily created them from the stones on the ground!
He is the God who stopped Abraham’s arm, sparing Issac and providing a substitute!
He had compassion on Hagar when she cried out in despair!
He worked through men like Jacob, a liar, a cheat.
He rescued His people from Egypt, making a mockery of the Egyptian’s so-called gods!
He parted the red sea!
He descended on Mount Sinai, declaring His law to His people as they shook in terror.
He worked through men like Moses, Aaron, Joshua.
He fed his people, he even preserved their shoes!
He made provision for widows, for the fatherless, for the poverty-stricken, for the stranger.
He gave His people the home He had promised.
He worked through men like David, an adulterer, a murderer!
He destroyed Israel’s enemies!
He healed Ruth’s broken heart
He stood with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednegoin the blazing furnace.
He stepped into history! Just like He had planned from the beginning!
He set aside His glorious position.
He, “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself”
He came to this earth that is in ABSOLUTE rebellion against Him!
This world that groans under the curse of sin! Death, decay, disease, pain, abuse,
This is the world into which our God stepped.war, hate, famine, depression, hunger, thirst.
He came, not as we would choose, as a king, but as an infant.
Not rich, but poor. Not in strength, but in weakness.
THIS is the God we worship, THIS is the God we serve.
He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind!
He forgave the paralyzed man’s sin!
He rescued men from the horrific grip of Satan’s army.
He shut up the mouths of his opponents, the self-righteous pharisees.
He astonished the crowds!
He calmed raging storms!
He comforted and protected children. When no one else cared.
He wept for His friend, and then brought him back from the grave!
Who were his friends? Tax collectors, uneducated laborers, anarchists, rebels, loud-mouthed fools.
If everything He did were written down, the whole world wouldn’t have room for the books it would fill!
He allowed Himself to be betrayed
Beaten. Mocked. Ridiculed. Falsely accused!
He went, not to the clean, abstract cross of today, but to the cruel, vicious cross of humiliation and shame.
The One who wrote “Cursed is everyone that hangs on a tree” hung on the tree!
He became a curse, for us.
In the most incredible, unbelievable act yet, the perfect creator of the universe became sin, for us!
“He demonstrated His righteousness so that He would be the Just and the Justifier of all who believe!”
He defeated Death. Sin. Hell.
All that which crushes this earth in it’s grip, He makes a spectacle of it! (Eph 4:8)
He comforted those who, only days before, had denied Him.
This is our God, the God who then sent His Holy Spirit into those who had believed and been made right before God in His Son
He changed those men and women.
He was in Peter when he stood boldly in the crowd and declared God’s message
He was in Stephen as the stones beat his body to death
He was in the early Jewish believers when they lost their homes, their families, their businesses, but never the eternal riches they have in Him!
He was in those He empowered to take His message of life into all the world.
Paul and Silas knew who He was, they knew what He could do, they knew that the prison walls couldn’t rob them of their freedom, that the chains couldn’t rob them of their joy, that their wounds couldn’t rob them of their peace! They sang out in praise of this God!
He saved the jailer who, ready to plunge the sword into his heart, cried out “What must I do to be saved?”
He is the God who inspired Paul to write:
“If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin,a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ”
This is the same God who wants to include US in His plan!
This is the God who is not distant, but here with us.
This is the God who wants us to ABIDE, be sourced in HIS SON!
He wants us to KNOW Him, Not as a a bullet point, or as a theological statement, but experientially.
“…let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”
So yes, the race is long, painful, arduous.
The task IS impossible!
“…We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”
Through the fear, through the pain, through the anguish….Let’s focus on Him
We know so much about who our God is… Lets daily trust Him to SHOW us who He is!