As I begin this next part of the study, I’m feeling especially connected to this Power I do not understand, which can, at times, make no sense to me whatever. I’ll begin by bringing back to our memory the verses of scripture that are seeking to increase our faith life.
“Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the author and finisher of the faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (12:1-2).
In the first part, we took a few minutes for meditation and imagining. I challenged you to see yourself in that place surrounded by those people who’ve been a powerful example of endurance and perseverance for you. I invited you to go a little deeper and feel the weightiness of the joy as you considered their lives and what they represent; that which you want for yourselves.
I found that this very act of faith helped me to lean in more and commit to laying aside all the hindrances, the beliefs, and opinions about myself and others, even God. Moreover, it brings me to this day. Join me, and let’s explore the next few words:
Let Us Run
We are urged to keep running. Written in a present tense form, “keep” denotes continuous activity in the race that is before us. The author suggests, as we run, we are to be “looking unto Jesus.” “Looking,” again reflects a present tense, and suggests turning “the eyes away from other things” and fixing them on something else. More generally stated, we are called to become “other-centered.”
I owe a high debt to the many in my life who have sown into my faith walk. I witness this precept in their lives; this spirit they carry is compelled to connect with mine. This is the mystery. This cosmic Love manifests in me because I am innately wired to believe. When we get out of ourselves and connect with others, Love comes, and we find ourselves running farther in any and every sense.
The Author and Finisher of the Faith
By now, in the process, there is little more to be said. And we believe Christ to be the “author and finisher of the faith”; their faith and ours too.
I liken becoming more Christlike to “Loving Well.” Why? Because I couldn’t take the giant leap “becoming Christlike” meant. It was too much. So a friend asked me, “How well do you, Love?” I was honest and confessed, “Not well.” I learned that becoming more Christlike, like Loving well as the result of my spiritual maturity.
See, when we are first “saved” (physically, emotionally, or spiritually), we are immature in wisdom and knowledge and inexperienced in grace and Love. But when we continue, we grow in each of these things. Our assignment is to become stronger—and more Loving or Christlike. “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else” (1 Thessalonians 3:12).
Eventually, I could say that God works in me (in us): “We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). One day, however, the process will be complete: “When he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). The promise of being fully Christlike in the future is in itself a motivation for you and me to become more Christlike now: “Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:3).
Let me leave you with these questions and an art journal prompt:
- What does turning “the eyes away from other things” and fixing them on something else mean to you?
- Do any of the verses above resonate with you? Write it (them) out and ask God if there’s anything more he wants to share with you. Sit quietly and listen. Write down anything you see, sense, hear, know, or feel in your spirit.
- What does becoming Christlike or Loving well look like for you?