Therefore, having so vast a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, and throwing off everything that hinders us and especially the sin that so easily entangles us, let us keep running with endurance the race set before us, fixing our attention on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of the faith, who, in view of the joy set before him, endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1-2 (ISV)
Yesterday, my husband Henry brought the LORD’s message during worship at our local home church. He gave it the title “How Chumuckla Community Church Can Be Perfect.” It was a good word for all of us to chew this week as we march on toward Christ’s goal. This is what I heard and took away:
All of us have been called. Some have been ordained. Some sit behind a desk. Some drive a tractor. No matter our jobs (yes, school is a job!), we are called out of those jobs, from the “you” and “me” to become the “we” which is the Body of Christ. And the Body of Christ is called to go out to be the ambassador, the Living Representative, of Christ as we walk, sit behind a desk, drive a tractor.
To understand more fully a given passage, like Hebrews 12, the best thing to do is to read forward and to read backward. So what does Hebrews 11 say that clarifies Chapter 12? It describes the cloud of witnesses that are our example of how to run our race. Who are these people? Many of our Bibles will give a chapter description like “Great Examples of Faith” or “The Roll Call of Faith” as if to say that here are the Greats of God’s children! It is not unusual to look back on someone’s life and see it through filtered glasses, forgetting their imperfections and raising their example higher than the reality.
Abel: All we know about him is that he made a sacrifice pleasing to God that so angered his brother, Cain, that Cain was driven to murder his brother, Abel. A short, dramatic life.
Enoch: He pleased God so much that he was taken to heaven before he died.
Noah: We see Noah as a man who would fulfill God’s order, even if he were rediculed, even if he didn’t understand the “why” of it. He was also a man who got drunk and did unwise things.
Abraham: He left his home, not knowing where he was going! If I quit my job and packed up my family and home, loaded it all in a Penske truck and family car, the neighbors might inquire as to where we were going. “We don’t know. God just said to go!” Now that is faith, right?
Even when Sarah was too old to have children, she had faith that God would do what he had promised … Wait a minute. I thought Sarah was told by the visiting angels that she would have a child and she went into her tent and laughed?!
And so the Honor Roll of Faith goes on in Hebrews Chapter 11. So was this “cloud of witnesses” so great because of their faith? I don’t think so. They were great because they were willing. They were willing to put their faith into someone else besides themselves. They were willing to put their faith in someone greater than themselves. They were willing, and imperfect, and God can use people like that.
And Samuel replied, “Speak, your servant is listening.” – 1 Samuel 3:10 (NLT)
I pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from me, but he has told me,“My grace is all you need, because my power is perfected in weakness.”Therefore, I will most happily boast about my weaknesses, so that the Messiah’s power may rest on me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (ISV)
It would be worth your time to read the rest of Hebrews 12 as it speaks about how Father God loves us. Besides that passage, I also was drawn to a few more passages like 1 Samuel 3 and 2 Corinthians 12. This was all part of my take away from the lesson Henry shared yesterday. I am on a journey to perfection with Jesus as my teacher and example. His Spirit convicts; it does not condemn. God will open doors and give me opportunities to be His ambassador. And in my weakness, in my willingness, Jesus will be strong and Jesus will be seen and known. Take time right now to pray and tell God, “Here I am, Father. Send me!”