“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3
When Jesus went to the cross he was looking ahead, past the shame and the agony to the joy of fulfilling his Father’s purpose. Jesus was not, in any way, manipulated by his feelings or his circumstances. Why? Because he possessed a clear VISION.
The Value of Vision
VISION is a motivational incentive which is absolutely necessary for success in any long-term venture. Proverbs 29:18a (NAS) declares, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained.” VISION serves us by empowering, sustaining, and restraining us during perplexing times. VISION is empowering because it provides us with focus, confidence, and enthusiasm. VISION can also be scary because it assigns us a measurable standard to evaluate our progress (or lack thereof).
Webster’s Dictionary defines VISION as, “the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be.” Another excellent definition for VISION is “to have a clear mental image of a preferred future, imparted by God to his chosen servants, based upon an accurate understanding of God, self, and circumstances” (Barna Research Group). VISION is an intangible quality which, if found lacking, leads to a lifestyle of desires never achieved and goals never reached. The attending frustration and despair are born out of an endless cycle of “good intentions” that remain nothing more than that.
There are at least four observations from Hebrews 12:1-3 that, if heeded and responded to, will make it possible for God’s VISION to be revealed and released in us:
- Lay aside every encumbrance and sin. First of all, we are to take all of our known sins and their effects upon our life to the cross. The Greek word for the phrase “lay aside” is APOTITHEMI (ap-ot-eeth’-ay-mee) and means to cast off, or to put away. The Greek word for the word “encumbrance” is OGKOS (ong’-kos) and literally means weight. The Greek word for the word “sin” is HAMARTIA (ham-ar-tee’-ah) which means to miss or wander off the path.
- Run with endurance. This statement means to have Christ and his purpose as the main and most important objective of our lives. The Greek word for “run” is TRECHO (trekh’-o) and means to have a track on which to run while exerting all of one’s effort to succeed (see also Matt. 6:33). The Greek word for “endurance” is HUPOMONE (hoop-om-on-ay’) and means steadfast consistency; not wavering from the course, even when suffering is required.
- Fix your eyes on Jesus. Just like a fighter pilot ‘locks on’ to his/her target, we are to ‘lock on’ to Jesus. The Greek word for the phrase, “fixing our eyes” is APHORAO (af-or-ah’-o) and means to look away from all distractions – Jesus wants our undivided attention on a regular basis.
- Despise the shame. Reject the inevitable shame that will come from following Jesus. We live in a secular culture that is often carnal and profane in attitudes toward committed followers of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:14 tells us that, “an unspiritual man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him.” Because we appear to be foolish to “unspiritual” people it is natural for them to attempt to change us through shaming us. Shame is painful. Jean-Paul Sarte characterized shame as, “a hemorrhage of the soul.” Jesus did more than endure shame, he despised it. The Greek word for shame is AISCHUNE (ahee-skhoo’-nay) and means the sense of disgrace and the humiliation that accompanies such disgrace. The Greek word for despise is KATAPHRONEO (kat-af-ron-eh’-o) and means to think little, or nothing of; to dismiss. This shame that is inflicted on us is a false shame, born out insecurity, which is easier to dismiss when we know that it’s coming.
A wise person has declared, “A vision without a task is but a dream; a task without a vision is only drudgery; but a vision and a task is the hope of the world!” There is much more to life than just trying to get by. It is imperative that we persist and invite God to build a VISION for his purpose into our lives.
Here at M-PVCC our vision for 2009 is: A Quest for Authentic Christian Spirituality. We seek to live authentic lives, we seek to be Christian, and we seek a spirituality that is informed by our authenticity and our Christianity. As the picture at the top of this post suggests, this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. I am joyful to be on this journey with you.