Monday, 17 May 2010
Hebrews 12 (New Living Translation)
God's Discipline Proves His Love
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won't become weary and give up. 4 After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.
I am thinking a lot about choices at the moment. I have been a Christian a long time now but to be honest it still feels like I am starting out on a journey. You see I spend far too much of my life going from one extreme to the other. One minute I am really as they would say "on fire" for God. I can't get enough of his word and I want to tell people and I am on fire to actually do things in church and want more than anything to be doing God's will. If that was my state all the time then that would be fantastic. The problem is I go through long periods were I don't really pay God any attention whatsoever. I am happy to go on doing things my way and while I may pay lip service to being God's disciple, the truth is I make my own way in life and make my own decisions. Now I am willing to admit that this is a very bad thing.
A few weeks ago I listened to a sermon on Faith from Hebrews 11. Hebrews 11 details the great men of faith and there commitment to God. But reading on just slightly into Hebrews 12 gives me a picture of things I can do and choices I can make to run the race with endurance.
Firstly to strip off every weight that holds us down. Firstly the command I believe God has given us is to be at war with sin as John Piper puts it so eloquently:
"When you make peace with God you make war with sin.
The evidence of being justified is that you make war on sin. When you become a Christian you don't become perfect, when you become a Christian it doesn't mean you win every battle in the war, but if there is no war . . . your not saved. If you are totally at peace with sin, at home with sin, relaxing in the arms of the pleasures of sin and there's no war in your soul against it, there's no reason you should think your saved."
In truth I cannot just stop sinning that is very unrealistic. But the truth is that that is no reason for me not to try. I should be at war with sin and trying desperately to live a life worthy of my Saviour. This is not for personal gain but because I am so grateful that Christ has saved me from an eternity without God and not just that but wants a relationship with me. I should be more than a little grateful for that.
Secondly to run the race with endurance. How do we do that? Well the writer tells us here that we fix our eyes upon Jesus. This I believe is so important to us to fulfill the first part. We do not get away from sinning by just not doing it. If we are constantly thinking about committing sin it will wear down our defenses and we will eventually sin. So what do we do?
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
The song is correct and Hebrews 12 tells us to to look to Jesus because when we concentrate on Christ instead of sin we are more likely to make Godly decisions in our life.
So the only choice I have is to serve Christ and run the race with endurance. It really is up to me. If I want to follow Christ then this is the choice I have to make when deciding what to do each day. To focus on Christ is to spend time with him, worship him and pray to him. The way I spend my time has an unbelievable impact on how I will live my life.