Summary: A sermon to encourage, to persevere, to understand a great crowd of witnesses goes before us and that we as Christians support each other in our faith race for life
NBC July 2012 (London Olympic opening weekend)
In front of a great cloud of witnesses
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
12:1 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, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. NIV
2 * VIDEO = 5 minutes
Message to 2012 Olympians `Dear Olympian 2012’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ee9Uby1PGuQ
Followed immediately by: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/olympics/17779148
A career plagued by injuries, but in 1992 Derek Redmond arrived at Barcelona with an eye on the gold medal. It wasn’t to be. With 175 meters to go in his 400 meters semi-final he pulled his hamstring. The dream had ended it seemed. Not for Redmond though. The succeeding events are etched in the minds of millions. Crying, he stands up again, only to try to finish on one leg. His father watching from the sidelines joins him with words of comfort – “We’ll finish together”.’
Strength is measured in pounds. Speed is measured in seconds.
Courage? You can’t measure courage’, were the words used by the IOC president to promote the Olympic movement by the act of perseverance.
But for Derek Redmond, it was the only credible thing to do.
All these sports people who qualify for `The Games’ deserve our admiration: From aquatics to weightlifting and the 24 other Olympic sports genres in-between. All have had to train hard and sacrifice much to get to London 2012
Is it not inspiring to hear of people who won’t give up?
And it’s the same in our faith: Our heroes are the ones who won’t give up:
• The missionary in a far off land working to bring Christ’s love and compassion to the destitute and the lost
• Pastor Nhadarkhani imprisoned for his faith in Iran, and others who won’t renounce their faith, even under threat of death
• Great writers and preachers like John Stott, and Selwyn Hughes who worked long and prolifically during their lives
• Or maybe the quite unassuming Christian person, who regularly without fail checks on his or her elderly neighbour, or the one who daily works to build God’s kingdom by consistent benevolence to others in Christ’s name.
• Or maybe it’s just the Christian man or woman who sticks to their faith under some severe test or another.
All are Christian heroes. And all have something in common:
Dereck Redmond and his dad served as an illustration;
They know the Father’s love through the love and the actions of the son:
Their commitment is unwavering. And that is the first message from todays passage. To be a fulfilled Christian requires unwavering commitment, in faith and in Christian life.
This short Hebrew’s passage is an exciting piece of scripture:
Imagine, the Olympic flame has been lit. The games have begun. And you are in the Olympic Stadium.
The capacity crowd of 80,000 spectators have come to witness a race, but not just any race. This is a race of crucial importance. This race could be life changing for the winner
But you’re not in the crowd.
At the start line of that race are you and I.
Now I know this is a bit of a stretch of the imagination as some of us can’t run the length of ourselves. The TV to the remote that’s short distance. The TV to the kitchen that’s middle distance in our house. Run to the end of the street- forget it!
But you can do it. If you need to picture yourself at your fittest or as fit as you’ve ever dreamed of being.
You’re on that start line, All eyes are upon us as we begin crouching into a starting position. A hush descends over the 80,000 crowd ……..
Sense the excitement? Let it grip you……
That is the feeling you can get if you really let these words from Hebrew 12 wash over you;
12:1 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, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (NIV)