Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-3 ESV)
I cannot be the only person in the world who hates what she does and does what she hates and longs to do something good and finds herself in the midst of doing something that she hates all over again. Right? I’m not the only one? That’s an idea that Paul echoes in one of his letters–this reality that even with Christ’s Spirit dwelling within us, we’re still bent on our sin.
This passage in Hebrews always seemed so easy to relate to because of its imagery of our sin having a “sticky” property. When I was younger my brother and I would often play in the woods or in this giant field behind the neighborhood houses. Without fail we would wind up with sticky burrs all over our clothing. This was often met with a wee bit of frustration on our part, but also on our parent’s part. Apparently, picking off all of those sticky burrs wasn’t an easily dominated task, and even if it could be done with ease it was still a nuisance.
If I were able to hole myself off in a tiny room with only a bible and a journal, I am certain that I wouldn’t be able to do much sinning. I almost said any, but I am sure that I would fail to capture thoughts and let Jesus have control of my thought life. And, in seclusion there is no opportunity to live out the charges in the Scriptures to affect and influence others for the sake of the Kingdom.
But the very second I leave my safe little bubble of home, I find myself bombarded with the world. A million things vie for my time, and by the end of the day I realize that I have done more than one thing that wasn’t necessarily applause worthy. I realize that whenever I wake up to each new day, I have an opportunity to be covered in less burrs, or be nearly unrecognizable because I am covered in so many.
What about you? Have you been the sort who goes off into the woods of the world and comes back covered in your sticky burrs of sin? The most amazing discovery for me, was that God isn’t looking at me with disappointment when I come back home. Instead he helps clean me up and then throws a party to celebrate my returning.
And He longs to do the same for you too. He doesn’t have a spirit of condemnation. Rather, God is the father that waits expectantly for us to come home running. He meets us with love and doesn’t hesitate to clean us off if we admit that we have messed up.
I pray that today you don’t miss that. On your race towards the prize of eternal life, I pray that you let God help you take off those sins that are sticking to you, and claim your freedom.