Wednesday, March 2, 2011

To the Clouds: Faith is Gazing at the Heart of God (part 3)

What motivates you?  You are who you are because...?  Before you read another sentence, take a moment to answer that question (I’ll wait).  Do you have an answer?  I have all the time in the world if you aren’t ready.  Ready?  Great, let’s begin.

When it comes to things that motivate us, our answers are probably as diverse as we are.  However, I suspect that money, family, love and God are high on most lists.  The writer of Hebrews excites our Christian faith as we are reminded of the great Heroes of Faith in chapter 11.  He wants to motivate us to be the next Abraham, Moses and Enoch.  They seem larger than life yet the goal of finishing strong seems to be within our grasp.  Read with me the next two verses that follow that great chapter on faith.   

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder [author] and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” [emphasis NASB]

The Greek word for cloud (νέφος), used only here in this form, refers to a large dense multitude.  Calvin said, “Had they been a few in number, yet they ought to have roused us by their example; but as they were a vast throng, they ought more powerfully to stimulate us.
He says that we are so surrounded by this dense throng, that wherever we turn our eyes many examples of faith immediately meet us.” 

This motivates me!  I want to please God like Enoch, I want to consider the reproach of Christ greater wealth than all the money of Wall Street.  I want to walk by faith like Abraham and remain faithful like Daniel.  The image of running a race on the same track that the greatest runners of all time have raced would be awe-inspiring.  Imagine running a race were the stands are filled with your heroes and they are cheering as you pass by, “you can do it,” “don’t give up,” “keep your eyes on Jesus”.  A better image might be a relay race where Abraham is passing me the baton to run a section of the race, ready to pass it on to the next person.  I am not running to please them, but their inspirational lives provide a great motivator for me to run as they did. 

My ultimate motivator is none other than Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith.  Listen to these verses just one more time from The Message, then get motivated for the right reasons.

1Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. 2Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. 3When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item,
that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!
Hebrews 12:1-3

1 comment:

Buzz Nofal said...

Good stuff Jeff. Hope to get to see you sometime.