Week of July 1
A Healing Spirituality
Do you find your Christian life exhausting? Are you trying to do so much good work for God that you are left feeling burned out? Do you feel like your emotional or spiritual baggage is holding you back in your faith journey? The Christian life is like a marathon, and if we try to run it like a sprinting contest or trying to carry excess baggage, we will end up ineffective and weak.
After the thorough listing of faith role models in Hebrews 11, the author then encourages us to follow their example in Hebrews 12: "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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 12: 1-3).
The Christian faith is not a sprint, but a marathon. Many Christians try to run the Christian race as if it was a sprinting contest. They rush from one Bible study to another, attend meeting after meeting, and join every committee they can; however, no one can keep up that pace for very long, and eventually they tire and give up in exhaustion. Instead of working for Christ, they become burned out and ineffective. Then after a sufficient rest, they are back to their frenzy of service and studies and meetings. They spend their entire lives in this sprinting pattern with periods of intense work and periods of burnout.
If we run the Christian race as a marathon instead of a speed race, we will set a steady pace that we can maintain until the race is finished. Our race should not be about the speed we run, but about the consistency of our running. We will still occasionally stumble or slow our journey, but we should always remain focused on moving steadily forward.
When we run for a long distance, we need to "throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us" (Hebrews 12:1). Excess baggage and weight will only hinder our marathon and will lead to tired and ineffective running. These added weights could be feelings of anxiety, worry, bitterness, or greed. Our weights could be unconfessed sins or doubts about God's power. These hindrances can slow our race down to a halt. We can look at the examples of the faithful in Hebrews 11 and realize that they overcame many obstacles and weaknesses. They overcame, and so can we.
One of our greatest hindrances is our preoccupation with ourselves. Instead of staying focused ahead on the road that we are running, we begin to compare ourselves to other runners. We begin looking to our sides and behind us, instead keeping our eyes forward. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus who stands at the finish line waiting for us to complete the race. He should always be the focus of our faith because He is the giver and wellspring of faith.
Jesus Christ Himself is our greatest role model for finishing the long marathon. During His life on earth He endured opposition and ridicule and scorn and blasphemy and torture and betrayal. Yet Jesus endured because He was motivated by the glory that was awaiting Him in heaven. Jesus' prize is our prize. When we finish the marathon, we will find our rewards in heaven. That should be enough motivation to keep us running, persevering, and moving forward.
Are you feeling discouraged in your Christian race? Are you like the sprinter who does too much then experiences burnout? Are you the overburdened runner who is encumbered by doubts and sins and worries? God is calling us to move forward. If you are feeling weak, tired, and unmotivated; fix your eyes upon Jesus. He is the greatest role model of faith and wants to motivate you and encourage you and equip you in your race. Pray for His help today so that you can become a long-distance runner in your faith journey.
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