Sermon Titled “The Race Before Us” (Hebrews 12:1-2), by guest speaker Pastor Ron Beams – Sunday 3rd May, 2015
- Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 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 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
To help his readers grasp the meaning of his message, the author of Hebrews used a sports metaphor to draw a parallel between the life of a Christian and the life of a devoted athlete. Since Paul spent a lot of his time on the Corinthian Isthmus, where the Isthmian Games were held, many believe that it was he who wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews. It doesn’t really matter though who wrote the Epistle, as long as we grasp the idea that God wants us to run the race of Christian life just as an athlete prepares to race towards victory.
In the days of the early Olympic Games, athletes had to sign an oath that bound them to a ten month commitment of complete devotion to their sport. In signing the oath, they were agreeing to train as hard as they could every single day, and to abstain from alcohol and substances that would impair their ability to perform. Their sights were fixed on winning the victor’s prize, and that meant disciplining themselves to say no to anything that threatened to distract them from achieving that goal. That kind of dedication is what Christ asks of us; He wants us to focus our sights on Him and live our lives in such a way that we do the best we can at whatever tasks God gives us.
We must either give our all, or give nothing at all; that’s the key point. A famous quote by C.S. Lewis is this:
- “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance, the only thing it cannot be is moderately important.”
The only way we can give our all, is by realizing that the race of Christian life is not a sprint, but a race of endurance. And the only way to endure the pain and hardships along the way, or avoid deviating off track, is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. He already blazed a trail ahead of us, clearing the way for us and leaving behind His footsteps for us to follow. Knowing that He is ahead of us and waiting for us, makes it possible to overcome the challenges and difficulties we’ll inevitably face as we run towards Him.
Our race is a race towards Jesus, a race to become like Jesus, and a race in which we are committed to carrying His word into the world. Where we live, work, or move to, should not cause us to lose our sense of commitment or goal objectives. Neither should our circumstances cause us to lose hope and faith. Remembering that Jesus endured the cross because He knew the victory that was to come, should spur us on towards the imperishable victory that only awaits those of us committed to following Him.
During Paul’s final days on earth, he wrote a second letter to Timothy declaring the following:
- “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Tim. 4:7-8
Let’s live our lives with the intention of one day echoing these same words!