Looking to Jesus
We are all running
the race of faith; some of us walk with a limp, and yet we are running the
race. We are all athletes.
When your child or
grandchild is running a race, you might stand along the road to cheer them on.
A runner needs encouragement. We are encouraged by a great crowd of witnesses, the
Old Testament saints mentioned in the well-known Hebrews 11.
We ought to think of
a great amphitheatre packed with cheering fans. There are the runners, the race
track, and bleachers filled with spectators cheering on the contestants.
The outcome of the
lives of the Old Testament saints encouraged the first readers of this letter,
and they encourage us. They inspire us when we consider how they lived by
faith. They give us a boost from the pages of scripture. They teach us how to
live by faith. The expression “by faith” occurs twenty-two times in Hebrews 11.
They lived by faith and were commended for their faith.
We are also
encouraged by the communion of saints today. We all need to encourage each
other in faith and life. Life is not easy. There is so much to dishearten us. A
word fitly spoken at the right time can carry us along a bit longer and farther.
We need to focus on
the race. A runner wears appropriate clothing. You don’t run in a football
uniform. You might go to the event wearing heavy clothing, but you throw them
off before the race.
We’re told to lay
aside everything that hinders. The thing may not be wrong in itself, but does
it slow you down? Does it help, or hinder?
And we lay aside the
sin that entangles. Imagine an athlete wearing a robe or toga. It would trip
him up. Sin easily entangles. One sin leads to another. Think of King David and
the Apostle Peter. Men of God, but one sin led to another. Sin trips us up.
We are encouraged to
run with endurance. An athlete keeps running, even when it hurts. No athlete
coasts to victory. He strains with every fibre of his being. Running involves
We run the race set
before us. A runner must follow the course marked out by pilons or by people
standing at corners directing the way. If you don’t follow the course, you’ll
get lost. Scripture marks out the course for us. We also have the regular
preaching of the word, the communion of saints, and the office-bearers in the
church to point us in the right direction.
But ultimately, we
look to Jesus. We don’t look up at the stands; we don’t look around us at the
other athletes; we look to Jesus.
There is a bronze
sculpture at Hastings Park in Vancouver of two men running a race. The
sculpture memorializes the 1954 race at the British Empire and Commonwealth
Games of the then two fastest men in the world: Roger Bannister and John Landy who had both,
separately, broken the four-minute mile. The men competed in “the race of the
century.” Landy was leading but as he approached the finish line, he looked
over his left shoulder to see where Bannister was. At that moment Bannister
strained past Landy on the right for the win. Not quite Lot’s wife, but the
sculpture stands as a warning about looking the wrong way.
As we are running the race of faith, we need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. If we do that in this new year we will run well, and we will finish well. Even if we walk with a limp, we’ll still be running the race. We are all athletes. Let’s keep looking to Jesus.
*First published in Clarion. issue 1 of 2022