Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was 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 endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. Hebrews 12.1-3
Never played sports? That doesn’t matter. You are, at this moment, dressed out (in uniform), on the field, living out the game of life before untold millions who have gone on before. These witnesses – including Abraham, Moses, Paul, Peter and many, many more – have worked and played, planted and harvested, suffered and struggled and given their lives to serve the King of Kings in this very world, on this very field that you find yourself.
Try as you may to remove your uniform and to quietly crawl into the stands to be a spectator, you will not be successful. Players who try to become spectators short-change themselves and the team by holding back their God-given gifts, abilities and time. The team suffers and the advancement of the Kingdom of God is delayed.
We have an obligation to continue the walk of faith (read Hebrews 11) of the witnesses for Christ who have gone before us. The great cloud of witnesses are not in the stands to cheer their favorite and boo another. They are there as living testimonials to the faithfulness of God in their lives.
We have an obligation to each other, to be “like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (Philippians 2.2). When players on the same team judge, condemn, criticize each other, the result is discord and division. This is not love, it is not of God and it is sin. Don’t be the weight, the hindrance, the impediment for your brother or sister in Christ.
Above all, we have an obligation to our God. Hebrews 12 is clear. We are to lay aside the weight and sin that most prevents our progress, play out the game on the field we have been given and keep our eyes on Jesus. In fact, we will forever keep our eyes on Him. That great cloud of witnesses in heaven are still fixing their eyes on Jesus at this very moment.
When you have followed the instructions of Hebrews 12 you will be able one day to confidently say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4.7).