“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 strengthening our relationships to take them to a greater depth that God intended. Social distance doesn’t have to result in spiritual and relational distance. We’ve talked about the first three insights for strengthening our relationships this week: focusing on Christ to meet our deepest needs; getting rid of distracting targets and eliminating poisonous arrows. Here are the final two found in Hebrews 12:1-3.
- 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 and 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. This is the great benefit of a LIFE GROUP. People just like you who come along side you to hold you up in prayer with an encouraging word. I challenge you to join one if you haven’t done so already. Join a life group to study God’s Word together and a local church to worship with other Christ followers. Connect with a community of Christ followers and take your relationships to another level! If you are not already a part of such a group, we invite you to connect with us this Sunday at 1pm for our LIFE Class at live.wc.org. Even during this crazy pandemic we have so many life groups that connect on zoom or some other social media platform to encourage one another, pray for one another and study God’s Word together. It will encourage you and accelerate your spiritual growth! You can register now for our life class and discover how to get connected.
- 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 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)
These challenging times are stretching our relationships in so many ways. God didn’t design us to do life alone. The church is a community of faith and even though it feels different than when we are together in person, we can still connect and strengthen our relationship with God and others. I hope you will register now to join us this Sunday at 1pm for our first ever online LIFE Class! Then log in at live.wc.org.