“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1b-2a).
The last several daily verses have focused on the need for our effort and commitment to know and grow in our faith. Because of the emphasis on our efforts, it may seem like the journey of faith has more to do with our effort and less with God’s grace.
Let’s get a couple of things straight.
These verses that deal with growing in our faith and understanding assume we are already children of God. These verses deal with sanctification – growing and becoming more like Christ as a disciple. Sanctification is a partnership between the Holy Spirit and us. The Holy Spirit guides, nurtures, and inspires. But we must work at doing what the Holy Spirit calls us to do. We become more like Christ when we practice the things that the Bible and the Holy Spirit tells us to do.
The reason why this is important is because our effort is done in response to God’s salvation. Salvation is all God. It’s all grace. We don’t do anything but believe and accept everything God has already done for us in Jesus Christ. Whereas, sanctification is a partnership between the Holy Spirit and disciples, justification is 100% the work of God.
Once we have received and accepted God’s gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ, we commit ourselves to growing in Christ. That’s where sanctification comes in. This is an ongoing journey until the day we die or until Christ returns. This part – sanctification – will take our best effort, commitment, and work.
If we are disciples, we respond to God’s grace by seeking to become more like Christ. That’s what it means to be a disciple.
There are two things from our verse of the day that I’d like for us to focus on in regards to discipleship.
First is the call to run with perseverance the race marked out for us. The Holy Spirit invites us to become more like Christ. This journey is not a sprint. This is a lifelong marathon. Therefore, what’s required is the perspective of perseverance. We will have good days and bad days. But the main thing is that we keep going. We’re in this for the long haul. We’re in this for eternity.
Second is our motivation. How can we persevere when things are hard? When we don’t feel like it? The text tells us to “fix your eyes on Jesus.” Fix – don’t take your eyes off him. Keep your focus on Christ. Fix it on Christ. The reason for this is because the things of this world are so “blingy”, so shiny. It is too easy to lose focus. It’s too easy to take our eyes off of Christ.
The longer we take our eyes off Christ and focus on the world, the more we forget the reality of the kingdom. We know that this world is not our permanent home. We know that the things of this world are not the totality of reality. We know that we are children of eternity and that what matters most is eternal things. But the longer we focus on this world, the more we forget the reality of the world that is coming.
You know I play golf. When a golfer takes his/her eyes off the ball the result is always painful. Nothing good ever happens when a golfer takes their eye off the ball.
Same goes with our faith journey. Nothing good ever happens when we take our eyes off Christ.
- We are in this for the long-haul. We will run the race that has been set before us with perseverance.
- We will fix our eyes upon Christ. This world is a passing world. Christ’s kingdom is coming. We are children of eternity.