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Summary: God wants us to run the race of faith to victory

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RUN, RUN, RUN!

Hebrews 12:1-3

INTRODUCTION

I don’t know who the author of Hebrews is, but I think that he would be right at home in front of a big screen television watching the Superbowl next Sunday, that is if he had not already purchased tickets. Why? Take a look at the first few verses of the twelfth chapter. We are introduced to a powerful athletic metaphor in which the Christian life is compared to a race.

If you know Jesus then you are a participant.

You are already running, whether you realize or not. (Turn to the person next to you and tell them, “You are in a race”.)

The issue is not if we are running but how we are running.

RUN FREELY

I do not know which race this author of Hebrews had in mind. I don’t know if he was thinking of a sprint, long distance or a marathon. I don’t know about you but being a Christian is often like an obstacle course, more than anything else. In any case we are told to run unhindered.

Ill. Can you imagine what it would be like to be at a track meet waiting for the start of the 100 meter race? Gathered together are the top runners from across the world. Fractions of a second separate these runners. While the marathon is a test of stamina and endurance, the 100 meters is an explosion of power that is over in less than ten seconds. If you have ever run the sprints you know that there is little room for error. Often a race is won in the start itself. But imagine that as the runners come to the blocks that something seems strange about the world record holder. You pick up your binoculars to get a better view and what you see doesn’t make any since. Strapped around his ankles are 25 pound weights. For what ever reason, he has decided to run with this extra load. There is no way he is going to win.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

The words used here mean to lay aside anything, any obstacle any impediment that would hinder your running. Take it off! Strip down. Get rid of any sinful thought, action, habit, or relationship. Sin will trip you up and cause you to fall. Ancient track competition like today demanded intense practice. Olympic athletes had to swear that they had undergone ten months of rigorous training before competing. The last month head to be under the stern eye of an Olympic instructor. They disciplined themselves to remove unwanted body weight and when they computed they ran almost naked. We also are to remove anything in our lives that hinders our running.

Ill. There is a terrible story about a man who went out to play golf early one Saturday morning. His wife became concerned when he had not returned home by dinner time. It wasn’t until about midnight when he came through the front door, exhausted.

“Where have you been?” she demanded

“I’ve been playing golf” came the reply.

“But that was 18 hours ago. What happened?”

“I was having the best game of my life. I was two under par when on the seventh tee Harry had a heart attack and died.” His wife still didn’t understand.

“After that it was hit the ball, drag Harry - hit the ball drag Harry . . .”

Is there something or someone slowing you down?

Are you trying to run with extra weight?

Are you dragging something behind you?

Get rid of it! Run Freely

RUN FOCUSED

The words used in the text carry the emphasis of running fast moving ahead exerting yourself and making progress.

Fixing our eyes on Jesus

We are to give attention to one thing to the exclusion of all else. Look with undivided attention,

The author and perfecter of faith

(1) strictly, one who goes first on the path; hence, leader, prince, pioneer.

(2) as one who causes something. to begin originator, founder, initiator.

Ill. When I was in the marines, the training for commandos included cliff assaults. The theory was that a commando raid should be a surprise, done as quickly and as silently as possible on the area with the lightest defenses. The lightest defense is at the point where attack is least expected. More often than not, it was the cliffs. We would come close to the cliff in our small boats and fire one rocket up through the darkness. Attached to the rocket was a grapnel. Attached to the grapnel was a light rope. When the rocket landed on top of the cliff, the grapnel would lie on the grass. We would then pull it back gently until it caught on something. We hoped it caught on something secure. We had expert climbers. Those guys were like spiders. They would get out of the little boat onto the seaweed-strewn rocks, and scale those cliffs in the dark hanging onto this thin, little rope that was on the end of a grapnel they hoped was hanging onto something secure. A bigger rope trailed behind them. Below, we held onto the rope. When the climber got on the top, he would secure the rope he’d taken up and then give two little tugs on it. The minute the two little tugs came, we jumped out of our boats, cold and wet on the waves and rocks. We would scale the cliffs. It was a hairy experience, except we had utter confidence in the one who’d gone before us. We had utter confidence in the security of the rope he had fastened for us. You could imagine my delight when I discovered that Jesus is called "the one who has gone before," or in the Greek, the "prodromos." The prodromos was a person who headed a patrol in military maneuvers. He was the one who went ahead and made sure the way was open.

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