Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bethany Bullet - September 17, 2013

“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race that is marked out of us.” - Hebrews 12:1

Unlike the 5k, 10k, half or full marathon we didn’t enter the race of faith after careful consideration, intentional training and estimated successful completion. By our own strength we can’t start down the path. By our own reason we can’t determine to participate. The author to the Hebrews, one time companion (St. Paul) in his letter to the Ephesians wrote, “Faith is not of your own doing, it is a gift of God.”  In other words, the LORD is the one who brings us to faith and we run because of His work begun in our hearts and minds. The author of the letter to the Hebrews, (the author of this Bullet believes that to be Paul’s first missionary journey companion, Barnabas) in chapter 9 & 10 already declared that it is due to the sacrificial blood of a perfect offering; that we are God’s people and have entered His presence. In other words, we race because of Christ’s work on our behalf. Luther in explaining and expounding this theology writes, “By our own reason and strength we cannot believe in Jesus Christ or come to Him, but the Holy Spirit has called us by the gospel and enlightened us with his gifts.”  We don’t “run the race” because we chose God but because He chose us and in the words of Jesus appointed us to bear fruit.

Now as His people, we can however, choose not to run! The children of Israel did. They turned back, “We don’t want to go any further, this desert path will lead us to death, let’s back track to Egypt.” The crowd did when they heard Jesus say, “My flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.”  We are told they responded with the words, “This is a hard teaching; who can accept it?” Many turned back and no longer followed Jesus. Thomas did the same. “The path led you to an empty tomb you say, you sprinted to the place and found the grave clothes folded did you? He jogged right through that there door did He? How delightful for you! WELL UNLESS I see Him! I choose NOT TO. . . run (race, rejoice, believe any more or any longer).”

The Lord in His goodness fed the children with manna and quail and they carried on.  He continued to preach from town to town and many followed.  He made His way to Thomas, touch, see stop doubting and believe.  And Thomas Ran.

To run simply means to follow the one who has brought us to faith and forgiven our sin.  The author of Hebrews pushes the metaphor of running further with the analogy of a few well placed steps.  Let’s look at the first in this Bullet. 

“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles…” 
Even if you’re not a runner you realize that few who are do so wearing army boots and sweatpants.  As light and little as possible, discarding anything that will weigh and slow them down is how they run.  So we too are called to throw off everything that hinders.  This is a call to Repentance and Resistance. 

First it is a call to repentance:  To confess that, which you are carrying, that which you’re lugging around, and threaten to pull you off course and keep you from continuing.  While we’re not gonna not sin, and when we do the only remedy is the grace of God given for the sake of Christ; while we’re not gonna not sin, that is exactly what we’re called to do in this text.  To avoid sin!  Throw it off!  Repent.
If you went through our Discipleship by Divine Design (DbDD) small group Bible study you’ll recall that we talked about worship as the finishing line and the starting gate.  (You can view that on our website if you’ve not seen it; go to the Formation Group Link) Click HERE to see video on worshipping faithfully. (*If unable to open link, copy/paste this into browser: http://vimeo.com/62277863)

You know every time you enter worship you cross a finish line?  Every time you come to church you’ve just completed a week on the leg of the race called the Christian life.  You’ve crossed the finish line but not without aches.  Tied, worn, weak from the week; but more than that, we also find ourselves carrying something that needs to be thrown off!  Not a week in the race goes by without something happening on the route that tangles us up.  Sometimes we are tripped up by our temper.  You know the feeling, you found yourself saying (yelling) or doing things (even if just a gesture) that should not come from the mouth that also praises Jesus; or be done by one who dawns the racing garb that is the robe of righteousness.  Sin so easily entangles doesn’t it? For some the gutter of greed has caused a slip.  These are those who find themselves occasionally more concerned with the stuff along the route than the destination to which they’re headed. Sin so easily entangles doesn’t it! Some have crossed the line with lust’s limp, others with toes stubbed on self centeredness or self righteousness. Sin so easily entangles doesn’t it? But when we walk into His presence and cross the finish line of this week’s race…as we throw off (repent) all that so easily entangled us we find a God who is so gentle, unwraps us from the tangles, and sets us free. 

That is when “Throw off” itself changes pace and that which was a call to repentance becomes a call to resistance.  God’s presence, for those still on the course, is not only the finishing line it is also the starting blocks. In it we are given strength to resist sin, boldness to bypass, dexterity to detour and agility to avoid that which would entangles us. It comes in the Spirit who fills you and promises to work in you through the words sung, read, pondered, expounded and reflected upon and through the post and pre-race nutrition of bread and wine, and water that long after poured continues to work His wonders.  Now we’re not gonna not sin, but that is indeed what we are called to, so let us!  Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  Let us repent and resist as we run the race.

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer


Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Hit Counter