Summary: Spiritual Olympian going for the goal run with perseverance.
Title: Olympians Run with Perseverance
Text: Hebrews 12:1
The Big Idea: Spiritual Olympians, with a “go for the goal” mindset, run with perseverance.
Series: Spiritual Olympians: Going for the Goal, is based on Hebrews 12:1-13 and designed to coincide with the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, August 8 – 24 and beyond. It is a series developed from Go for the Goal: Become a Spiritual Champion, Mainstay Ministries.
The text today likens the Christian’s journey through life as a race we run with a goal in mind.
“Let us run with endurance or perseverance the race God has set marked out before us…” Hebrews 12:1c
The idea of the Christian life as a race takes on a new clarity when we understand the word as it is used in this context. The word translated for us as “race” is the Greek word “agon” which means “contest.” It is also the word from which we get the word “agony.” (W.W. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of N.T. Words, P. 226))
While most of life is a thing of absolute beauty, some of life can be very challenging, even agonizing.
A week ago, seven-time Tour de France champion, Lance Armstrong, was runner-up in the “Race Across the Sky,”also known as the Leadville Trail 100… 100 miles of grueling mountain-bike racing. He finished just 1 minute and 56 seconds behind the winner whom Armstrong urged to go on and win when, as he put it, “At the end I realized I was thoroughly cooked, but,” he added, “I’m having a good time.” (The Seattle Times, Briefs / Cycling: Armstrong finishes 2nd in Leadville Trail 100, August 10, 2008)
The point being made is that at times the Christian life involves some hard fought and agonizing challenges, which require everything we have in order to overcome. The story of Team Hoyt is a heart touching and challenging example of how deep we sometimes have to dig in order to overcome the challenges in life.
The clip we are about to see is called My Redeemer Lives and features Team Hoyt. Perhaps you have heard of them… it is about a father Bill, who is now 65 years old and his son, Rick, who is 30 years old. During his birth, Rick suffered oxygen deprivation and doctors told his family that he would be a vegetable for the rest of his life. But his parents did not accept that diagnosis and set about raising him as normally as possible. They found that despite the fact that he was physically challenged and unable to speak, he seemed very bright. When he learned to talk with an interactive computer… his first words were not “Hi Mom” or “Hi Dad.” He typed, “”Go Bruins!” From that moment they knew Rick had a keen interest in sports. Dick and Rick Hoyt are a marvelous example of the overcoming power of the grace of God. If you would like to learn more about their story you may go to their web site: TeamHoyt.com.
Video Clip: My Redeemer Lives – Team Hoyt Clip (Godtube.com)
The clip ended with a simply stated truth that we would all do well to tuck away in our hearts and minds as a mantra to be used when the going is tough.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
Now that we are aware that we are in the race of a lifetime… a marathon of living out our faith in anticipation of receiving what the Apostle Paul described as, “the prize – the crown of righteousness that the Lord will give all who look forward to his return.”
We are now aware that we are surrounded by a great crowd or cloud of witnesses who have completed their own races and are now cheering us on as we run our events. We are also painfully aware that there are hindrances or friction factors that slow us down and even besetting signature sins that trip us up, that we need to strip off or lay aside in order to be the Spiritual Olympians God wants us to become.
This morning we will explore the nature of the race toward the end of understanding it and responding to its challenge.
The first thing we need to understand is that we run.
1. Spiritual Olympians understand the necessity of making progress in the Christian life.
“And let us run…” Hebrews 12:1c
The phrase “let us run” connotes the idea of speeding along… on those mornings when I decide to walk to work I don’t leap out of bed, beat my chest, let out a Tarzan yell, and announce I am going to run to work. My plan is to walk up 68h Avenue, climb the steep bank to Sheridan, cross Sheridan, and walk up 66th Avenue to Benton, then walk up Benton to 65th Avenue and one block and a parking lot later I arrive at the gym door. Note the numerous references to walking “up”. It is literally uphill until I get to 65th. My goal on those days is to reach our church… my goal is to arrive.