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Pioneer and Perfecter of Our Faith
Fall Quarter: The Sovereignty of God
Hebrew 12:1-5: The example of the Champion
Unit 2: The Sovereignty of Jesus
Sunday school lesson for the week of October 30, 2016
By Rev. Earnestine Campbell
Scripture: Hebrews 12:1-13 (NRSV)
: To affirm ways that God in Jesus Christ is with us in our journey of faith
The last two Sunday school lessons concluded with Melchizedek, a king of the Most High God, and Jesus as the salvific and eternal Priestly King. In this text, the author transitions to Jesus’ place at the right hand of the throne of God; the pioneer (initial or chief leader) and perfecter of our faith.
So then let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne. Think about the one who endured such opposition from sinners so that you won’t be discouraged and you won’t give up. In your struggle against sin, you haven’t resisted yet to the point of shedding blood, and you have forgotten the encouragement that addresses you as sons and daughters: My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline or give up when you are corrected by him, because the Lord disciplines whomever he loves, and he punishes every son or daughter whom he accepts. Bear hardship for the sake of discipline. God is treating you like sons and daughters! What child isn’t disciplined by his or her father? But if you don’t experience discipline, which happens to all children, then you are illegitimate and not real sons and daughters. What’s more, we had human parents who disciplined us, and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father. Our human parents disciplined us for a little while, as it seemed best to them, but God does it for our benefit so that we can share his holiness. No discipline is fun while it lasts, but it seems painful at the time. Later, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness for those who have been trained by it. So strengthen your drooping hands and weak knees! Make straight paths for your feet so that if any part is lame, it will be healed rather than injured more seriously.
The author shows Jesus as the pioneer perfecter, running the race of life’s obstacles, hardships, and difficulties, as well as the “cloud” of witnesses that faced weaknesses. Jesus endured our sins, for our present and future (2 Cor. 13:4). The text tells us to “throw off the baggage of sins;” not only our sins but others’ as well. So often we carry unnecessary burdens, including the burdens of others’ intentional sins and deviations of Godly ways. To run a race, perfecting towards Christ’s example, we must continually examine self, our relationships, our connections, and make changes when needed and right choices even when it’s difficult. (2 Cor. 13:5)
To pick up our “cross,” denying the immaturity of faith, just as the perfecter of faith, Jesus, exemplified, for he was not ashamed (Luke 9:23-24). The word of God teaches us to resist the devil (adversary, enemy, the antithesis of Christ) and it shall flee (James 4:7). Radical change in mindset, philosophies, actions and behaviors for the betterment often come through resistance. We resist evil peacefully and in the spirit of Christ. Jesus resisted sin, corruption, and abuse of power, and through his endurance, he suffered bloodshed. We have not been called by God to endure the ultimate suffering as Christ did, but we must press forward as the race is not finished for the people of faith.
Questions to Consider:
Hebrew 12:6-13: Moving from infancy to maturity in the race
- Examine yourself, actions, behaviors, and disciplines, are there improvements to be made? If so, what will you do to improve?
- Examine your relationships and connections; are they dysfunctional, are you carrying someone else's baggage? If so, have you addressed it? Did positive changes occur? If not, what will you do now to work in Godly faith?
The author expresses a parallel parent to child relationship of discipline and order. The appropriate discipline in our lives makes us stronger. I have always loved playing sports, and because of this passion, I had to be disciplined to perform in a competitive manner. As I studied the text, discipline reminds me of a coach’s charge to his/her athlete, practicing routines, running drills, or a runner practicing on the track field. If you don’t practice, the consequence is that the coach will “bench” you (you don’t get to play at game time).
Just like a parent-to-child relationship, when children are disobedient and don’t follow instructions, parents may “ground” their children and take away their electronics, playtime or extra activities, etc. So discipline and correction show us that it is profitable to train in following instructions, building on strengths, developing weaknesses, and for the building of character (Isaiah 35:3). Jesus is the ultimate example, for he had a heavenly and earthly father, and he ran the race with the perfection of faith. Let’s not allow self, the enemy, others or obstacles to “bench” or “ground” us from perfecting our faith and running the race.
Question to consider:
A prayer of petition
As people of faith, times of weaknesses and disobedience may come to tempt us, let us not become tempted and discouraged and give up. Let us not become weary in training to perfect our spiritual disciplines. Just as runners and athletes receive encouragement from coaches when weak, let us draw nearer to you, God, for strength. Amen.
Rev. Earnestine W. Campbell serves as the Associate Director for Connectional Ministries. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- How might you develop in your spiritual disciplines for a deeper walk of faith?