“[looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity],….”-Hebrews 12:1-3
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Faith in God is the pulse of a believer’s life. In 1 Peter 1:7, faith is valued as more precious than gold. That’s powerful!
We need faith at the point of salvation to accept what God has made available through grace and we need faith throughout our Christian life to please God, according to Hebrews 11:6. Verse 1 of Hebrews chapter 12 admonishes us to “run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us,”. Our faith life is therefore like running a race. Believing in Christ Jesus-Romans 10:10, qualifies you to run the faith race.
Without endurance, one can easily get tired and may not be able to finish. Do you know that an athlete is disqualified when they don’t complete a race? It is therefore advised that even when you are trailing behind or become tired, you must try and cross the finish. In the same way, believers must be determined to cross the finish of the faith race.
When I contributed to our series on “ FOCUS ON JESUS “, I illustrated the need to finish a race no matter the circumstance by referring to the example of former British Olympic runner Derek Redmond. His story has been described as one of the purest examples of determination and perseverance in Olympic history. Tipped to pick the gold medal for the 400 meters semi-final race, Derek was forced to pull up due to an injury. The injury may have denied Derek the medal, but it could not force him out of the race as he had to limp to the finish.
Hebrews chapter 12 verses 1 to 3 admonishes believers to avoid distractions. Let me make it simple for you -Get rid of distractions! Distractions will derail you. It can take you off the track. To run the race of faith, we are to strip off or lay aside any weight that hinders us.
As children of God, the remedy for endurance or perseverance is to fix our eyes on Jesus Christ. The Bible presents Jesus as the perfect example to emulate.
Jesus must have encountered many distractions on the way to fulfilling His assignment of which two are the “cross” and “shame”. He however did not quit but endured. Verse 2 of Hebrews chapter 12 testifies that Jesus is now seated at the right hand of God signifying his exaltation. We are being encouraged to look at both the exaltation and motivation of Jesus Christ, as we run our race.
Why focus on Jesus?
- We must focus on Jesus Christ because He is the author, perfecter and finisher of our faith. We believe in Him unto salvation-John 3:16, Ephesians 2:8-9. We must continually believe in Him because our sustenance is dependent on Him – 1 Cor 1:8.
- Jesus finished the race set before Him and is now seated at the right hand of God. The place Jesus occupies now, the right hand of God, is enough proof Jesus completed His assignment -John 19:30, Philippians 2:8-11, 1Peter 3:22, Hebrews 1:3.
- Jesus endured the cross. God entrusted the cross, which was the path to redemption, into the hands of Jesus. So, though the experience was horrific, it was the necessary price to pay for the forgiveness of sins- Hebrews 10:12-14, 1 Peter 2:24. The cross shows just how horrible sin is -Romans 6:23.
- Jesus endured bitter hostility from sinners. In a lead up to His crucifixion, Jesus appeared before the Sanhedrin consisting of the chief priest, scribes, and elders to answer questions. The people who had gathered to watch the proceedings did not only mock Him but spat on his face -Matthew 26:67. How sad to see the very people you are willing to die for, treat you so disrespectfully.
- Jesus disregarded the shame associated with the cross. It means Jesus deliberately ignored any shame attached to the cross. In the Roman empire, crucifixion was a shameful and disgraceful way to die. But Jesus despised the shame, setting his eyes on the hope of joy ahead- “For the joy set before him….” Hebrews 12:2.
Life in this world can be a wild ride of change and uncertainty. There will be times when you will need to navigate rough waters-John 16:33. Challenging periods can become distractions. Never forget the hope of joy set before you. Follow the formula of Jesus by focusing on the glory ahead. Paul speaks of finishing his race with joy in Acts 20:24. That should be our goal too- Philippians 3:13-14. The secret is to take our eyes off the circumstances that surround us and stay focused on Jesus. When you stumble, fall, or get injured, get up, shake off the dust and continue the race, even if it means limping to the finish. Remember this race is not about speed, it’s about persistency and endurance. Crossing the finish. is not to receive temporal medals here on earth but eternal rewards in heaven. Paul exhorts Christians to go for the prize in 1 Corinthians 9:24.
When you find yourself at the crossroads, remember the old saying “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” For the believer, the tough get going because they remember to keep their eyes on Jesus who is, and remains the author, perfecter, and finisher of our faith.
Recommended videos – “FOCUS ON JESUS” by Patrick and Joyce Quainoo
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