Every year our church hosts an old fashioned church picnic. You know the kind with relay races, balloon tosses, tug of wars and other fun sporting events? It's always a great time that allows our home school kiddos the chance to exercise good sportsmanship and to earn ribbons for first, second or third place.
Now that our church has grown enough to plant two more churches, the competition has become a little more serious and includes a bit more emphasis on preparing and strategizing with the purpose to "win the cup" a trophy that lists the year and the winning church.
I thought using the scenario of running a race for the church picnic might be just the thing to highlight the verses Hebrews 12:1-2 for this weeks Summer School lesson...
EXAMINE WHAT WE ARE CARRYING
"Let's say that tomorrow is the annual church picnic and this year there is a new race! In this race we would have to run the full distance of the park we usually meet at- 258 acres!
How would you dress for a race like that?
Would you wear light clothing and tennis shoes, or would you want to run in flip flops with this backpack full of potatoes, apples and canned goods on your back?"
I had the girls try on the heavy back pack and asked them just how they thought a distance run would go if they were carrying this weight.
Would they be tempted to stop running after a while?
Would they begin to feel discouraged as they witnessed others without weights passing them by?
Would they feel this weight wouldn't make much of a difference to their run?
They all felt the weight would make a big difference- and I agreed.
Paul writes in Hebrews that we are to "cast off every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us."
We see that weights are different from sin. They are different primarily because they are not sin and therefore not the same for every person. Stealing, lying, coveting and adultery are no question. They are sin for everyone.
But weights; they are different. What might be a weight for one person, may not be a weight for another (ex. Social networking, an interest in sports, driving an expensive car, video games, specific movies and so on). These may be areas of Christian liberty.
Other weights may include wrong beliefs and wrong thinking. Thoughts not based on truth have the tendency to weigh us down, deplete our energy and trip us up as easily as a heavy backpack.
What is critical for us to understand is just because a certain thing may not be a weight for a brother or sister in the Lord, it may be a weight for us. If it is, God wants us to cast it off!
WHAT DO WE NEED TO DITCH?
I asked the girls to take a few moments to prayerfully consider potential "weights" in their lives that are slowing their growth in the Lord or preventing them from sharing the gospel.
As they wrote down their personal weights on "rocks" which they tucked into a slit in their paper backpacks, I read the encouraging tale of Adam Raccoon and his Race to Victory Mountain.
Each girl was asked to memorize Hebrews 12:1-2 to earn their reward- a "winner" sticker from the Dollar Tree and a piece of cake! Little Hailey was really only required to listen to the older girls recite their verse and repeat it after me to earn her treat. :)
WE HAVE GREAT EXAMPLES TO FOLLOW
Paul lists out heroes of the faith for us in Hebrews chapter 11. Men and women who serve as a great example to us.
There was Moses who chose to follow God's call rather than to enjoy the "passing pleasures" of sin that would have been available to him as a prince of Egypt (Hebrews 11:25);
Abraham (one of my all time personal favorites!) who journeyed away from the world and his people for reasons he did not know, because he sought to obey God (Hebrews 11:8);
Noah who prepared an ark for 120 years even though he had never seen rain or a worldwide flood (Hebrews 11:7);
Then there were- and continue to be- the martyrs (Hebrews 11:36-28) who have been willing to suffer greatly and even give their lives rather than deny their Lord.
And finally after our charge, Paul appeals to Christ's example- telling us to look to Jesus who endured despicable things for the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2-3).
Are there weights or sin in our lives that are keeping us from running well? Why not cast them off!
When we do, we demonstrate our saving faith that we know there is something far better awaiting us than the pleasures of this life.
See ya weights and sin...
Blessings to you!