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Text: Hebrews 12:1-2
Life is a race. In schools and universities we race for honors and awards. In the government and private sectors, people race for promotions and recognitions. In various endeavors, people race for excellence, prestige and honor. Wherever we are and whatever our status is, we participate in the race of life that we may get a prize or reward. In the Bible we find another kind of race. It’s the race of faith. As you face another stage in your life, let me invite you to look at the Holy Scriptures, particularly, Hebrews 12:1-2 and discover the Important rules of the race of faith. The writer of Hebrews when he wrote in verse 1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses”, was picturing “an athletic contest in a stadium or arena”i, specifically a track and field contest. This athletic imagery evokes “thoughts of intense exertion, maximum effort, and a constantly renewed concentration of energy on the attainment of the goal.”ii The ‘cloud of witnesses’ here are those people mentioned in Hebrews ch.11 who have received acknowledgement from God because of the constancy of their faith. The writer is actually saying, “You have cheerers and encouragers as you run the race like Abel, Abraham, Isaac and many others, who have been in the race once and succeeded. They knew your feelings, and even the frustrations as you enter the race and so they keep watching to encourage and support
Ptr. Jun Hernani. For Bacalaureate.
you all the way. By their example, we are continually encouraged. What then are the rules of the race? There are four based on the text. First, DON’T BRING ANY LUGGAGE. Lay aside every weight. Strip off every weight that slows down (v.1b). Weight here refers to the artificial weights used in training. We don’t join the 100-m dash or 50 km marathon with our back packs on! It will not only keep our pace slow, it will make us look foolish. In real life situations, we bring excesses into our lives. Things that slow us down and in the process discourage our faith in God. Things that seem good in the surface and not really bad like friendships or barkadas, romantic relationships, habits, vices, ambitions, desires and many others. But these things, if left unchecked, will slow us down instead of encouraging our commitment in God. These things are “anything that would interfere with responsible commitment to Jesus Christ.”iii Remember the first rule: Don’t bring any luggage. What are these luggage we have right now? Let’s lay it aside and we’ll see that running the race will be much easier. The second rule is this: WEAR LIGHT CLOTHING. Lay aside the sin that clings so closely. Strip off the sin that so easily entangles (v.1c). Can you picture an athlete of a track and field in the Hellenistic period wearing a long ward robe? The kind of dress they’re wearing should be set aside as not to entangle the runners. “Contestants remove all of their clothing before running so that nothing could impede them during the race.” iv This scenario is the picture of sin. It entangles us and causes us to stumble and fall. We live in an age of consumerism. Advertisements through TV, radio, billboards, magazines, newspaper, and the Internet bombard us everyday. In fact,
It could be cell phones. We easily conform to the society at large. Run with perseverance the race that is before us (v. 400. If we are hooked into materialism. sin has indeed entangled us. We also live in an age of permissiveness. The third rule: RUN THE RACE WITH ENDURANCE. Let’s reflect if we have been more content with what we have or do we continue to desire to accumulate more and more things. Let us admit that sin is really attractive. another test we encounter 3 .000 abortions are performed every year and 36% of these belong to the young women. ‘Just do it’.1% of the youth engage in PMS. This is the manifestation of our post modern generation which values feeling over responsible thinking. It presents itself as a sweet-sugar-coated cake. Let us try to assess ourselves if we have continues urge to buy the latest and most expensive models. Even if we laid aside the luggage and wear light clothing. Remember the second rule: Wear light clothing. “The Nike Motto. Both young and old succumb to this temptation. But once we take a bite. it is bitter than the ampalaya. In the Philippines 23.Advertisement is a $17 Billion business! Why do companies spend that much? To lure us to buy and accumulate even things we don’t really need. What sins have we been harboring? Let’s give it up and confess it to God and He will graciously forgive us our sins. or the Sprite Advertisement. This has resulted to what we call an ‘instant gratification society’.” v Let me cite an example. ‘Obey your thirst’ are good expressions of this approach to life. Around the globe 14 Million young women get pregnant each year due to premarital sex (PMS).1c). Sin actually destroys our fellowship with God and fellow humans. electronic gadgets. The list goes on. fashion accessories or whatever.
Jesus is our best example because in his humanity he was able to endure pain. It “makes explicit the element of struggle that is integral to mature commitment. So being a helpful lad.”vii In our Christian life. At first he was leading the race but finally ended third. humiliation. A runner must keep his eyes fixed on the conclusion of the prescribed course. In other words. and pain.” viii Christ himself set an example for us to emulate as we engage with the demands of persevering faith. “Richard was standing at the corner waiting for a bus when tragedy struck. Christians must focus on the goal of Jesus who is positioned at the finish line. The fourth rule is this: EYES ON THE FINISH LINE. let me share to you a story about a first year student at a London College. One of the contestants in our college in the men’s track and field last Intramurals lost the race because he kept looking at the person beside him. exhaustion. Look into Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith (v.while running is our physical limitation. In closing. Like runners. The call of endurance refers to endurance through faith. and even the disgrace of the cross. Our encouragement is this: many Christians have gone ahead of us and they remained faithful despite the difficulties. we can be assured that it will bring us to the desired goal. We too can endure the race with God’s grace.2). A barrier blocked the path of the bus. there are times when we wan to give up. We must not drop out of the contest but exert every effort to cross the finish line despite hardship. Richard put down his violin and books and 4 .”vi But “because the race has been prescribed for us. Jesus is the “champion in the exercise of faith and the one who brought faith to complete expression. He lost the focus and so he lost the race.
Vol. The bus driver. in Richard’s possession was one of the finest and maybe costliest instruments ever made but he didn’t know it until tragedy struck. So be it. If we are diligent in abiding with the rules of the race. Texas: Word Books. We are worth more than that Stradivarius violin. iv Ibid. not knowing that Richard’s possessions were behind him. Ibid. Word Biblical Commentary. bought by his parent 10 years earlier was crushed. i John Nolland. you will be leaving the halls of your alma mater and enter into another stage of your life. puts the bus in reverse and backed over them. Publisher) 1998.” Let us not wait for a tragedy to strike until we appreciate our true worth and value.47b: Hebrews 9-13. Let us then have faith and strive for Character and Competence that we may achieve excellence. vi Nolland. Sharing our Faith in Love.moved away the barrier. the true worth of a genuine Stradivarius is at least $720. vii Ibid. The 2nd hand violin. v Ajith Fernando.33. Richard saw for the first time a Latin inscription: Made by Italian Violin Maker Antonio Stradivari in 1715. and even crises ahead. difficulties. There will be more challenges. (Dallas. iii Ibid. then we can rest assure that we are headed into the right direction.000 (Php35 Million)! What an irony. viii Ibid. ii 5 . According to the London auctioneer. In just a few days.
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