“Running the Race”
“1…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.” (Hebrews 12:1-3
A marathon is a grueling 26.2 mile running race, and a real test of endurance. In a very real sense, that’s the kind of situation we find ourselves facing with the current COVID-19 pandemic. Though many of us hoped this would be a short-term issue, we’re finding out it’s more of a marathon than a sprint. Which begs the question, “Will you make it to the finish line?”
Many wonder if they will survive physically if they get the virus. But how many of us wonder if we will survive spiritually? That’s important to think about too! The passage from Hebrews 12, printed above, reminds us that as Christians we are in a race. It’s a race of faith, so to speak, which we are to endure and persevere in until we reach the finish line. The finish line however isn’t just the end of the pandemic. It goes beyond that, to the very end of our lives, and receiving eternal life in heaven. That’s the real finish line!
Unfortunately, just as some in a marathon race never make it to the finish, so too, some Christians fall away from their faith in Jesus, and never reach the heavenly finish line either. That, however, is NOT what God wants for us. Which is why he sends a coach to help us – the promised Holy Spirit.
This heavenly coach is the one speaking in Hebrews 12, giving us instructions and training tips for staying in the race. If we want to make it to the finish line and remain in faith, a couple things should be happening. First, we should be fighting against the sin that’s already present in our lives. Secondly, we should be doing everything possible to avoid falling into further sin in the future.
As can be seen, we have our work cut out for us! That’s why the Holy Spirit doesn’t just tell us what we need to do, but also shows us where the power to run such a spiritual race comes from. It doesn’t come from us! In other words, it’s not just a matter of digging deep within our soul, and relying upon some inner resource of strength we have. No! For us as Christians, it’s just the opposite. Instead of looking within for strength, we go outside of ourselves, and look to the Lord Jesus Christ!
Jesus is the key for running the race, because as our Savior, Jesus has already run the race himself! For the joy of finishing the race, and rescuing all of us from our sin, Jesus endured the cross. And not only did Jesus run the race. He won it, as his resurrection from the dead so clearly shows!
Having won the race himself, Jesus is here to help you win the race too. When temptations seem too great for you to bear, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus! He’s constantly giving you his blessings to strengthen and support you and keep you going. When you stumble and fall, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. He’s there, not to kick you out of the race, but to reach out with his forgiveness to pick you up, forgive your sins, and set you back in the race. And, if you’ve been losing your patience as you wait for the pandemic to end with all its disruptions to life. If your faith is growing shaky because of an uncertain future, and has started to give way to frustration, worry, or even fear. Fix your eyes on Jesus! He’s running with you, and has promised stay with you, all the way to the finish line!
Your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus!
Pastor Paul Krentz