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, 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.”
Hebrews 12:1,2 (NIV)
As a runner, I gravitate to this verse because of the illustration of racing. But what is the author really saying? Let’s break it down.
As a believer, the writer looked to historic biblical figures for encouragement. The Bible describes scores of examples from Abraham to David. We also can look to the people of the Bible for inspiration.
We have other “witnesses” available to us as well. In modern days, Christian athletes have churches, youth groups and Christian organizations. Disciples and Christian mentors provide support and encouragement.
Having other believers in our lives to lift us up and help us grow in our faith is an important part of our walk with Christ.
The author of Hebrews advises us to rid ourselves of the sin which shackles us. We need to perform a “heart check,” and see where in our lives we are disobedient. How can we shine God’s light brighter? We should spend time with Him daily to provide strength and guidance.
Perseverance helps us to stay on track and to sidestep worldly obstacles the enemy uses to try to derail us. How do we do this?
We do it by keeping our eyes on Jesus. As we face the pressures of culture and serve as examples on the court and in the classroom, we should emulate Jesus. We are the hands and feet of Jesus to others.
Jesus was obedient to the Father, and because of His love for the Father and for us, He was crucified. He paid for our sins. He died a criminal's death so we could be forgiven.
So, too, we need to follow God’s commands. We should forgive others for their wrongdoings in the same way Jesus forgives us.
The “race” mentioned in Hebrews is God’s plan to share Christ’s light with the whole world. In the same way, your game, meet, or match is your opportunity as an athlete to show Jesus to others.