What If ???
Hebrews 12:1-13 (NRSV) Chapter 12
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
5 And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children—
“My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
or lose heart when you are punished by him;
6 for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves,
and chastises every child whom he accepts.”
7 Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? 8 If you do not have that discipline in which all children share, then you are illegitimate and not his children. 9 Moreover, we had human parents to discipline us, and we respected them. Should we not be even more willing to be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share his holiness. 11 Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.
We have reached the end of the first week of 2019, and it occurred to me that if we continue to live this year with the same habits and activities as in previous years, nothing much will change. So, I thought we might seek guidance from this letter to the Hebrews as we embark on this new year.
It is not unusual in the New Testament to see the writers use an analogy of a physical race to explain a spiritual race. The readers of these letters were well acquainted with games for which one had to prepare if one expected to win.
For a physical race, the contestant was accustomed to removing anything that would weigh him down. In watching Track and Field events today, we see runners with short, light-weight clothing, shoes that likewise weigh a few ounces, with some competitors even shaving their bodies, hoping to “shave” time off of their race.
In running the race we call life, we could take some lessons from these contestants. First, to be successful we must be prepared. Just as we must cast aside anything that would slow us down in a physical race, success in the spiritual realm dictates that we do the same. We must turn away from sin and habits that would slow us down and look to Jesus, the One who gave us our faith and will help us to complete our faith. I love the spiritual aspect of these verses, as we are reminded that the people who have gone before us are now cheering us on!
Secondly, we must understand there is a discipline in anything that is done well. To succeed as an athlete, we must train our bodies. To reach a high plane spiritually, we must discipline our minds and our hearts. What if we decided that 2019 would be different that any previous year? What if we determined to be not just a people who accepted Jesus when we were eight years old, and then lived life as though being a Christ follower did not matter, but instead we made a commitment to live out our salvation each and every day?
What if when someone cuts us off in traffic we say, “God bless you,” and really mean it? What if we can ignore mean spirited comments made toward us or about us? What if we remember those gone before who finished their race and we decide to complete ours with the same grace and dignity they displayed? What if we consider all that Jesus did for each of us before we say an unkind word?
There is a new movement in the United States called, “WWRBGD.” Or, what would Ruth Bader Ginsberg do? God forbid!
I have nothing against Justice Ginsberg and holding her up as a role model is perfectly acceptable. But will asking the question, “What would Ruth Bader Ginsburg do?” really enable me to live out my Christian faith in a manner pleasing to God? Such action reminds me of Looney Tunes and Elmer Fudd as he proclaimed about Bugs Bunny, “Cwazy Wabbit!” Have we become so enamored of living, breathing human beings that we have traded our love and admiration of God for people whose bodies will one day turn to dust? Cwazy Humans!
Our scripture today ends by encouraging us to lift up drooping hands and strengthen weak knees. How do we accomplish this? We praise the God of the Universe with hands held high, and kneel before Him with humility. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Father God, as we bow before You we ask that you would strengthen our hearts and our resolve, that from this day forward we would purpose to change our outcome by changing our input, and that we would cease following earthly leaders to take up our cross and follow Jesus. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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