Friday, February 24, 2012

Running the Race of Faith (Part III): Looking to Jesus

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, looking unto 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. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

We’ve considered the motivation we receive from the testimony of the Old Testament saints, who trusted God’s promises although they did not see them fulfilled in their lifetimes. We’ve also talked about the necessity of travelling light as we run.

But above all else, more than seeing the examples of others, more than tossing aside our extra baggage, the primary source of strength for our faith race — and the primary goal of our lives! — is this: looking upon Jesus in faith.

"Faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God." — A.W. Tozer

It’s not faith itself that is the answer: I can run by faith in my own resources, or faith that everything will work out alright in the end, or faith that I will survive this particularly grueling leg of the race. But all that faith is merely faith in myself. What makes all the difference is placing my faith (trust, confidence) in Jesus.

Our race of faith is so much more than doing our best, keeping a positive attitude, and plugging along till we stagger across the finish line (spiritually speaking). We are called to run with endurance by looking to Jesus for every resource. It is His strength, His grace, His wisdom, His direction, that will keep our legs swiftly moving and our burdens light.

I’m cautious about this subject, because it can be misunderstood. "Looking at Jesus" is not another way of saying, "Ignore the realities of your life! Just sing praise songs and read your Bible; don’t worry; be happy!" We are not instructed to kick back, but to run! Looking to Jesus means that the fuel for this race does not come from our own resources, but from His resources. Faith in Jesus means I can face anything in this race, confident of His sovereignty and goodness and love. Why would I not look to Him in faith? Jesus is the author of this race, as well as the finisher and perfecter of our faith. The final verses in 1 Thessalonians make clear that Jesus is faithful to make you holy and blameless; He is the one who actually accomplishes the task!

So, run for God’s glory by fixing your eyes on Jesus:

. . . the One who has saved and is saving you . . .

. . . the One who is making you holy as you fellowship with Him in faith . . .

. . . the One who has faithfully fixed His grace-filled eyes on you.

those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

Next time: Part IV: Running the Race of Faith with Jesus’ Joy