Summary: The first message as the full-time speaker at a church where I had previously been filling in, preached the first Sunday after a move. Autobiographical, allegorical, and life-applicable.
Hebrews 12:1-3 – Baggage
Let me tell you something right from the start: we hate moving. I know we only moved less than 10 minutes away, but that didn’t make things radically different from moving away. Sure, we used several pick-up trucks instead of a U-Haul, and we made several trips each instead of 1 big trip, but the preparation wasn’t much different. Everything had to be boxed or bagged. Everything had to be labeled, at least, if we are going to find it again some time soon.
Right now all the rooms in the new house are sprinkled with maybe half-emptied boxes, in between the furniture that may or may not be in place. We have some of the bedrooms partly set up, the kitchen partly arranged, and the living room mostly arranged. Unfortunately, and here is where the problem arises, the house that we have moved into does not accommodate the 5 of us and our belongings. Yes, there are 4 bedrooms, which works well for our family, but we don’t fit in it. A great deal of our stuff is in storage in Deep Cove.
And I really think the flaw is not with the house. I think the flaw is with us. We have too much stuff. Too many books, too many clothes, too much furniture, too many toys, too many decorations, too many sentimental items… in short, just too much.
Which is the basis for this week’s message. Michelle was talking to me on Friday about today’s passage in Hebrews 12, and completely summed up my message for me, not knowing that I was even preaching on the passage. We had both come up with the same spiritual truth about our lives, from the same passage no less, so I really felt affirmed that this message may be what we all need to hear. Follow along with me from Hebrews 12:1-3.
This is one of my very favourite passages. I love the inspiration it provides to me, no matter how many times I visit it. Let’s see what it says to us today. The writer is said by some to be Paul, but I don’t think so. The wording and the phrases are fairly different from Paul’s other works, so I tend to believe it’s an unknown NT author. Regardless, the author starts off begins by tying together all the heroes of faith listed in ch.11, to what that means for us. The verse says, “Because of these heroes, because of these faithful witnesses, because of what these great people did because they believed in God, we should do our part as well.”
And what is our part? We are to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. That’s really where I want to camp out today. I mean, there’s lots more here – fixing our eyes on Jesus and what He did, or considering what others have gone through. But I want to speak about “stuff” today. Baggage.
The reality is that “stuff” holds us down. Look at the passage again. Sure, it mentions sin, and I’ll speak about that in a few minutes, and it also says “everything that hinders”. The NLT reads: “every weight that slows us down”. The truth of the matter is that we have things in our lives that make obedience difficult. Not necessarily sin or disobedience, but excess weight in our race to win the prize of heaven. Look at Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 9 – “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. 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.”
A runner in a marathon wouldn’t think of wearing a heavy backpack or carrying a Save-Easy bag full of bricks. Of course not. An athlete works to get into shape to compete in their sport, and then doesn’t clog up their efforts by self-sabotage. Self-sabotage. That’s what we Christians do when we carry along baggage that we shouldn’t be dragging along with us.
For example, this summer, as you know, I received a job interview from a school district up north. I’m ashamed to say this, but the biggest thing holding me back from putting on a good interview was the nagging question: “What would we do with all our stuff?” Truly, this was my biggest fear. We’d have had to pack up all our belongings, sort out what we wanted to take with us, sort out what we’d put in storage, find storage, sell the rest, sell the van, and all in the space of the 2 weeks between the interview and the start of school. It was too much to sort out. I didn’t think we could do it, and so I didn’t give my very best to the interview. Other factors came into play, like the housing shortage up north, but I didn’t try too hard. Because of stuff.