I’m thankful for the opportunity to be with you this morning – and although I only have a few moments I am extremely excited to briefly share with you one of my favorite Scripture passages, Hebrews 12:1-2. If you have a Bible please turn there quickly with me.
As you do, I’d like you to multi-task and also look at this picture. Does anyone know who this guy is?
He is the fastest man on earth – Usain Bolt from Jamaica. Just this week he set a new record by running the 100 meters in 9.58 seconds. I’m not sure I could run it in 9.58 minutes.
Now, let’s take a moment to analyze the picture, focusing specifically on Mr. Bolt’s attire. What do you note about it?
He is wearing very little. No socks, no underwear, the outfit as tiny as it can be. Why? Because he doesn’t want anything to weigh him down. He doesn’t want anything to keep him from running the race set before him.
You know, athletics, particularly races, are a great metaphor for the Christian life. In fact, NT authors use this metaphor over and over. One example is right here in Hebrews 12. Let’s read it together.
Now, there is a lot that we could and frankly should look at here, but I just want to try and bring out the two most significant points.
One, if we are going to run the race that God has placed us in, we have to get rid of everything that weighs us down. Can you think of some things that weigh us down and keep us from as living as we should? What are they? Notice that some of these things are sin and some of these things might actually be good things that simply keep us from the best thing.
So, how do we do this? How do we get rid of our baggage? How do we shed the things that keep us from running as we should?
We could get detailed here, but you know what, the real answer is pretty clear. We have to focus on Jesus. Notice what the first three words of v. 2 are…….looking unto Jesus. We have to look at his example. The verse goes on to tell us what that example was. 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.
How did Jesus do it? He focused on the finish line. What was the finish line? The joy of being at the right hand of his Father, having accomplished all that the Father sent him to do.
To close, I would like to ask you to close your eyes with me for moment. As you do, imagine that it is 2016. The summer Olympics have come to Chicago. You are in the Olympic Stadium about to run in the 100 meter dash. 100,000 people looking on. In the crowd are some of the greatest sprinters of all time. Jesse Owens, Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson. Great examples of athletes who have made the sacrifices necessary to win. They are watching you intently as you get ready to run the race of your life. Wouldn’t it be amazing to run that race and win?
Friends, we are running in a much more important race. It is the race of life. How are you doing? Are you running well? Or are you weighed down with lots of baggage and sin? Are you in optimal spiritual shape? If not, what is keeping you from running as you should? Commit to get rid of that today and focus upon Jesus, following his example, and making little sacrifices today, that will lead to great joy tomorrow.