Running has never been my thing. I recently have picked it up again though my runs tend to be very short, no where near a 10k, no less a marathon.
But as Christians, we are called to join the great race, the race of God’s kingdom. To some degree, we are already in God’s kingdom. Jesus said the kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21). And each day we are to live as subjects of that kingdom. We are to live for the purposes of that kingdom, and the King who reigns it.
But the day will come when we will see the kingdom in all its fullness. And as Christians, that is what we all long for.
It is what the great men and women of faith lived for. And it is what the writer of Hebrews charged his listeners to live for. His listeners were going through a tough time, and were suffering because of their faith. Others were struggling with sin in their lives. And still others were weighed down by their love for the world, by doubts, or other things.
And so the writer of Hebrews tells them,
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. (1)
For some reason, the NIV and some other translations omit a word in their translation here. It’s a simple word: “also.”
The ESV reads this way,
“let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
Maybe the translators for the NIV just felt it wasn’t so important to translate. I don’t know. But when I read that “also,” it makes me think that these men and women of faith that the writer mentions in chapter 11 were just like me. They also had to lay aside sin in their life, sin in which they struggled to get untangled from. They also had to lay aside the weights of doubt and the things of this world. And because they did so, God commended them for it.
And now, we too are called to follow their example and lay aside the sin and other things that would weigh us down as we run this race we’re in.
At the same time we lay these things behind, however, we are to look ahead. To what?
To Jesus. He was the author or pioneer of our faith. He blazed a trail for us to reach the Father. Through the cross, our sins can now be forgiven and we can have peace with God. And he is also the perfecter of our faith. Though we are now imperfect, though we struggle with sin and doubt in our lives, he will not stop working in us until we are complete.
And so through every trial, through every struggle, we are to keep our eyes on him. When we look at what’s around us, it is easy to get discouraged by what we see. By the evil we see. By our sin.
But take your eyes off of these things. Fix them on Jesus. Then run, shedding the things that are keeping you from doing so, and especially the sin that would cause you to fall. And Jesus will lead you home.