Focal passage: Hebrews 12:1-15
I picture this scripture as a conversation between God and a Christian full of good intentions, but missing some important information about what it means to lead a consistent life in Christ.
God: Are you ready for the race?
Christian: What race?
God: The race I have called you to run will lead you to a better country — a heavenly one (Heb. 11:16).
Christian: That’s it! That’s the race I want to run.
God: What’s with the backpack?
Christian: That’s where I carry all my past sins and guilt.
God: Doesn’t that weight slow you down?
Christian: Well, I guess you are right. I never thought about it before.
God: If you want to finish this race you have to throw off everything that hinders so you can run with perseverance the race marked out for you (Heb. 12:1).
Christian (setting backpack aside): Boy, that feels better!
God: Are you ready now?
God: On your mark, get set… (Christian takes off running.)
God: You started before I said “Go!” That’s cheating.
Christian: But I want to win.
God: I have given you rules to follow so that you can finish the race. You can try to break those rules, but it never turns out like you thought it would. That is why I discipline you — to keep you on the right path and to help you avoid the pitfalls of sin (Heb. 12:5-11).
Christian: You’re right. I’ve tried cheating before and it isn’t worth it, even if I do win.
God: OK, let’s try again. On your mark. Get set. Go! (Christian takes off in the wrong direction.) Wait a minute! Where are you going?
Christian: I don’t know. Does it matter?
God: Sure it does. You will never reach the goal of eternal life unless you know where you are going. You need to keep your eyes on Jesus. As long as you follow Him, you will reach your destination (Heb. 12:2).
Christian: OK, now I know where I am headed. Let’s try again.
God: On your mark. Get set. Go! (Christian starts in the right direction determined to finish the race. After a while he becomes tired and discouraged.) Look around you at all the other believers who have run this race. They are watching you and encouraging you with prayers. You are not alone. Don’t give up (Heb. 12:1).