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.
Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)
Hebrews 12:1 reveals so much about the character of God. This short, pivotal verse tells us about the heavenly realm; the ability of those in that realm to ‘see’ what we are doing; that God has a plan for our lives; that he knows it is not easy; and that he values our striving. The race we are directed to run gives us a purpose and a mission. In context it’s about keeping the faith. Hebrews Chapter 11, often called the Great Faith Chapter, precedes the ‘therefore’. If you pay attention to the ending of Hebrews Chapter 11, you’ll notice that all the saints mentioned “were commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.”
God works by processes. He wants us to run a race that he knows will be difficult. Some believe this to be unfair—why doesn’t God just poof everything to be easy for everybody? But God plays by his own rules. That’s what the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is all about. And we have a role in that sacrifice—we’re supposed to keep the faith.
Who wrote the Book of Hebrews? Opinions vary considerably, but my personal hunch is Barnabas. It’s hard to say, but one thing is certain—the apostle Paul knew and appreciated this theology. Continue reading