Run the Race with Perseverance – 18 August 2013
Welcome to worship today.
How do you see your Christian life? Is it like an early morning walk in the park, or is it a more grueling marathon that takes all your energy and concentration to get through? Long ago people in the church wondered why some of them were having a really hard time. Others mistreated them because they were followers of Jesus, and horrible things happened to some people. This week we’ve heard of turmoil in Egypt and the political struggles as leadership is being challenged. Among the chaos and destruction there are Coptic Christians who’ve suffered for their faith and their churches have been destroyed. Many of these Churches have been places of worship for centuries.
In the first few decades of the Christian era, most Christians knew that suffering is part of life, and that God does not make it happen. In the letter to the Hebrews 11:29 -12:2, the author reminds them that God was with them no matter what. Here is part of that letter in a paraphrased form. I’ll use this as the springboard for our message today:-
“Long ago, our ancestors in faith did some pretty amazing things. Long ago, when they were slaves in Egypt God brought them through the Sea of Reeds to the promised land.
Long ago, God was with a woman called Rahab who risked everything to help some of God’s people.
What more can I say? I don’t have time to tell you of so many others who did amazing things: they believed in God’s way and had faith that God was with them, leading and guiding them.
And we have been strong even when everyone was against us.
We are surrounded by many stories of faithful people (a great cloud of witnesses) and there are many people today who are cheering us on as we learn to live God’s way.
So, let us run the race in front of us. Let’s throw away all the things that slow us down, and focus on Jesus. He risked everything, to show God’s love to all. Thanks be to God!”
As we pick up on he heels of last week’s reading (Hebrews 11:1-16), today’s text reminds us that “by faith” God’s people did some amazing things. They escaped slavery in Egypt, and they entered the promised land. Interestingly one other “by faith” example appears in the passage above: Rahab. What makes this intriguing is that Rahab is both a foreigner and a prostitute yet, through her faith, she is able to live when others perish. This would suggest that acts of faith are not confined to any single people, but are an option for all of us. I would like us to be very mindful of the world around us and that’s why I’ve raised the issue of the turmoil in Egypt this week, especially as the Hebrews passage makes mention that “long ago, when they were slaves in Egypt God brought them through….”.
So in summary, we find that many people find life to be unsettling and there’s a tendency to want easy answers that are usually elusive. We want to understand a world that often defies explanation. But maybe that’s not the point. Maybe we would do well to let go of the things that weigh us down, and simply persevere, looking to the example of Jesus who went through suffering and even death to proclaim the message of God’s justice.
How readily can you set things aside and move forward in life’s marathon?
Keep exercising your FAITH muscles …. putting aside everything that hinders and weighs you down…this week….Rev. Brad Foote