Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; Hebrews 12:1-2a
As Pastor Burke pointed out, the main reason for sports participation is pride. Let's be honest - it feels good to be in the spotlight. What else explains the modern trend of reality tv? The desire to be seen and known - pride. Here is our problem - we no longer look at life through the lens of Scripture. It is no longer a matter of "What does God's Word say about it?" Today we settle for
"Well, I don't see a problem with it." It is, quite simply, the difference between walking in the flesh and walking in the Spirit. It's time we get back to the basics, something we seem to have neglected the past few decades. Many have perhaps heard of the great basketball coach from UCLA's past, John Wooden. What many may not know is that while building a basketball dynasty, he was doing something far more important - bulding lives. He attributed his success not in what he won, but in what he was able to teach his players. He didn't just pay lip service to "winning isn't everything", he actually lived it. But he did it by teaching his players the importance of submitting themselves and denying themselves.
Now let me get back to my title and text. We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. I have to wonder to myself at times, if they were able to observe what goes on down here, what would they think about how we are running the race? What would be their reaction to what they see? We would have to admit, I think, that they would not be that impressed; when the very faith that they died for, we can hardly muster up the energy to show up for; when the things they suffered torture and persecution for not denying, we can hardly deny ourselves a few minutes extra sleep for. Today in our church service we sang the old hymn "Faith of our Fathers." This stanza caught my eye -
Our fathers, chained in prisons dark, were still in heart and conscience free:
How sweet would be their children's fate, If they like them, could die for thee!
How far we've come! Would we pray that same pray for our young people? Would it be considered an honor for them to give their lives for the cause of the Savior? Can we be honest enough with ourselves to give an honest answer? What then, in this life, would be more important? Money? Security? Fame?
...who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2b