Today we want to concentrate on the topic of faith.
Faith is a central part in our spiritual journey.
Sometimes our faith gets tested
and we loose our focus on the finish line
– the glory that awaits us.
In the early church
the faith of new believers
was constantly being tested.
In Hebrews 10:32-37 the writer reminds his readers:
32Remember those earlier days
after you had received the light,
when you stood your ground in a great contest
in the face of suffering.
33Sometimes you were publicly exposed
to insult and persecution;
at other times you stood side by side
with those who were so treated.
34You sympathized with those in prison
and joyfully accepted
the confiscation of your property,
because you knew that you yourselves
had better and lasting possessions.
35So do not throw away your confidence;
it will be richly rewarded.
36You need to persevere
so that when you have done the will of God,
you will receive what he has promised.
37For in just a very little while,
"He who is coming will come and will not delay.”
The faith of the Hebrew Christians was once
characterized by patience and perseverance
in the midst of persecution.
(We could say the same for the early Anabaptists,
and for our ancestors in Russia).
But something had happened
to dull their devotion and determination.
As the race of their faith went on
they lost their focus and their faith in Jesus Christ.
The promise of Christ’s return had not come to pass.
And the Christians were getting tired
in their pilgrimage of faith.
They were throwing away their confidence
In eternal life.
And so, the writer seeks to renew the faith
of the believers
by encouraging them to stand firm in their faith.
And he compares the race of the Christian Faith
to a marathon.
In Chapter 11 he gives the examples of
Noah, Abraham and Moses.
Noah had patiently prepared the ark believing God.
Abraham had pressed on
looking for the city of God.
Moses had endured in his search for the Promised Land
because he saw Him who is invisible.
And then we have this great exhortation in Heb. 12:1-2
1Therefore, 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.
2Let 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.
With this great cloud of witnesses,
who had persevered,
we are encouraged to run with patience.
We are pointed back to those
who have already completed the race
to see that we too can run the race
of the Christian life by faith,
and not give up.
But in order to run the race in the hope of succeding,
we must throw off everything that hinders.
We must travel light
and let go of all the extra weight
that would slow us down.
We must let go of the sin
that so easily entangles us und trips us up.
We must let go our past failures,
and our unfulfilled desires.
Like the early Christians,
our Christian race often gets slowed down
by discouragement and lack of focus
on the finish line.
We sometimes grow weary
when we look at the obstacles ahead of us.
We look at the runnig track
and we see that the race is still far from over.
And we sometimes loose heart
and we give up when the race heats up.
As we continue in the race
we must never lose sight of our goal.
Rather, we must fix our eyes upon Jesus Christ –
the author and perfector of our faith.
And as we run the race of our faith
we will also be cheered on
by the great clowd of witnesses –
the heroes of our faith -
who have finished the race before us.
May God grant us pacience and perseverance
as we run our race of our Faith
to the end.