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Summary: If we want to become an elite spiritual athlete, we must focus on our hero – Jesus Christ (Part 2 "How To Be An Elite Spiritual Athlete").

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HOW TO BE AN ELITE SPIRITUAL ATHLETE

PART 2 “Focus on your Hero”

Hebrews 12:2-3

INTRODUCTION

We’re talking about how to be an elite spiritual athlete. We all know how important it is to stay in shape physically, and it’s no less important for us to pay attention to our spiritual condition.

And you’re never too old to start getting fit either physically or spiritually. My grandmother wanted to stay in shape so at the age of 60 she started walking five kilometres a day. She’s turns 97 this year and we still don’t know where she is!

Last week we said that to be an elite spiritual athlete you have to stay in the running. Quitters just don’t make it to the ranks of the elite. Jana Pittman is a classic example of this in this years Olympics. Take Jana and transpose her situation to the spiritual realm. What things can we do to sustain a vital walk with the Lord when we’re down but not out? We said, “Watch the winners,” “Stay in shape,” and “complete your race.” These are tactics that physical athletes use – and the same principles apply to success in the spiritual life.

This week at the Olympics we saw a young Aussie swimmer take out gold in her event (300m?). The first time a gold has been won in this women’s event since Dawn Fraser. Dawn Fraser was even interviewed and said she thinks Australia is at the beginning of a resurgence in success in women’s swimming.

And it’s heroes like Dawn Fraser that keep our athletes motivated. Focussing on their past achievements. Trying to break their records. If you want to be an elite physical athlete you will have your heroes and they will become a focal point of your journey to success.

And it’s exactly the same in the spiritual life. If we want to become an elite spiritual athlete, we must focus on our hero – Jesus Christ. Our passage from Hebrews 12 goes on to say just that. (OUTLINE)

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:2-3).

There are a number of good reasons why we should fix our eyes on Jesus. Let’s take a look at some of them.

I. RELATIONAL BENEFITS

In Feb 2001 The Sydney Morning Herald reported the story of a man who married his TV set. At the time 42 year old Mitch Hallen was an Aussie living in Britain who had already been divorced twice. On Valentine’s Day in 2001 he married his Sony Widescreen with the ceremony actually presided over by a priest and witnessed by a dozen friends! Hallen took his vows of "high fidelity" and put matching gold rings on top of the TV.

Why marry his TV? Mitch Hallen claimed after two divorces and failed romances he had given up on women. "My TV gives me countless hours of pleasure without fussing, fighting or backchat"

It’s a sad story, but in one sense we can agree with Mitch. Relationships with people are more difficult that sitting in front of the TV.

So then how can fixing our eyes on Jesus help us in our relationships?

Here are just some situations where our hero, Jesus, helps us in our relationships.

When you say: "Nobody really cares about me." - Jesus says, "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." (I John 4:10)

When you say: "I feel all alone and nobody wants to be my friend." - Jesus says, "You are my friends, if you do what I command... I no longer call you servants... Instead, I have called you friends." (John 15:14,15)

When you say: “I want to resolve this conflict” - Jesus says, “Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:18)

Notice Jesus says peacemakers raise a harvest of righteousness. He did not say peacekeepers. This is proactive – we have to confront and make peace not hide issues under the carpet in order to keep the peace.

When you say: "I can’t forgive that person." - Jesus says, "Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” (Matthew 18:33) - forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matthew 6:9-15).

And Jesus has this to say about our responsibility to community relationships ...

When you say, “I don’t know how to vote.” Jesus says, “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

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