“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3 (NIV)
The most important word in the English language, apart from proper nouns, is relationship. You might think it would be love, but where is love going without a relationship? Relationships are the tracks on which love travels. The Great Commandment involves relationships – loving God and loving others. The writer of Hebrews offers clear insights for targeting our relationships so that we hit the bull’s-eye of all that God intended for our relationships to please Him. We’ve talked about the first three insights: focusing on Christ to meet our deepest needs; getting rid of distractions and eliminating poisonous arrows. Here are the final two:
• Connect with a community of Christ’s followers. I’ve often thought about this great cloud of witnesses that surrounds us according to Hebrews 12:1. Who are they? I envision them like spotters in a race, looking down to cheer runners on to finish the race just as they finished theirs. I can almost hear them sometimes when I’m tired or discouraged and tempted to quit. They are shouting from heaven saying, “Don’t quit!” “Never give up!” “You can make it!” “You can do it with God’s power!” I can’t prove this is the case. But, one thing I can prove – that’s the benefit of being connected to a community of Christ’s followers here! There is no substitute for the local church! Every one of us needs to surround ourselves with Christ-filled encouragers. People just like you who come alongside you to hold you up in prayer with an encouraging word. I challenge you to join a church if you haven’t done so already. If you’re in the Houston, Atascocita, Woodlands, or Tomball area, we invite you to join Woodlands Church! This Sunday, we’re having a Membership Class with lunch and would love for you to come and check out the benefits of connecting with a community of Christ’s followers. You can register now! If you already are a part of a church family, join a small group to study God’s word together. Connect with a community of Christ followers and take your relationships to another level!
• Look past the current pain and see a future hope. There is no greater example of this than Jesus. Hebrews tells us to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross ….” What was the joy set before Him that gave Him the strength to endure the cross with all of its suffering? The joy set before Him was you! Jesus looked beyond the pain of the cross to see the joy ahead – the joy of a people that would be forgiven and reconciled to God through His death! When you look to Jesus, He fills you with hope! Hope has a name! His name is Jesus! The weeping prophet, Jeremiah, once said, “Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: the Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunshine. The Lord is all I have, and so in Him I put my hope.” (Lamentations 3:21-24 TEV) When you do, you’ll experience God’s power that will keep you from growing weary and losing heart.