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. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV)
Thank the Lord for the internet! We have been so blessed to have online worship services, Bible studies, and devotions that we can watch and listen to at any time. Biblical podcasts enrich our minds and spirits as we listen to the teaching of the Word of God. Live streamed services and Bible studies have allowed us to interact with our teachers and our fellow students, and this has been a huge godsend for us. In our congregation we have been able to begin working through the book of Acts in worship and Bible study as we had planned. We have not been deprived of the Word of God.
But there is a danger in all this as well. It is easy to become a spectator. Think about this as a possible illustration: If you were attending a worship service or a Bible class in person 1 year ago, you probably wouldn’t get up and leave 17 minutes in. You would stay; you would participate by singing, speaking, or taking notes. But over the last three months, if you were watching a worship service or Bible study, you might pause the service after 17 minutes to get a cup of coffee. You might watch half of the service and decide to do something else. You might even just stop watching.
You see, that’s what spectators do. They look at the game, the concert, the performance, and they decide if they like it enough to keep watching. Or they leave.
The verses of Hebrews 12:1-2 remind us that living the Christian life is not a spectator event. We are running the race. We are to throw off the sin that entangles our lives and run the course that God has placed in front of us. That means effort is involved. Work. Sometimes hardship.
So how do we do this? It’s pretty simple – we fix our eyes on Jesus. We keep our eyes on the One who ran the most difficult race of all, who flexed His power when He carried our sins on the cross. We focus on the One who didn’t quit when it was hard, when blood and sweat and tears were involved. We keep our eyes on Jesus, who endured the cross so that He could pay for our sins and who rose from the dead so that He could give us His victory over death.
We fix our eyes on Jesus in worship, by participating as much as we are able. If we can’t say and sing the words out loud yet we speak and sing them in our hearts. We listen attentively to the words of Jesus and say “Amen” to them in the way we live. We joyfully eat and drink the body and blood of the Lord Jesus in His Supper.
And then we run.