Challenges of Living Together as a Community
– by Tom Caballes
“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…” (Hebrews 12:1 ESV)
In training, we see runners putting on extra weights on their bodies so they can develop more strength and endurance. But during a race, runners run with the least amount of weight in their bodies. Why? Anything extra they carry around will make their run more difficult. They will be carrying unneeded, and in fact, burdensome, dead weight.
In the Bible, the path to discipleship is often compared to a long-distance race: a marathon. As we begin our walk with God, we start getting rid of some of those dead weights; and as we move along, we continue to unload some more. But along the way, we may also pick up things that make our journey more troublesome and slow us down. Ideally, we should be running with almost nothing, so our race, which is very challenging in itself, will become a bit easier.
How about you? How much dead weight do you carry around in your spiritual journey? Wouldn’t you prefer to run towards heaven with a lesser dead weight?
So How Do You Carry Lesser Dead Weight in Your Spiritual Race?
- You are a new creation in Christ [2 Corinthians 5:17], and you received the Holy Spirit. But you need to know that you are a sinner until the day you die and that you need to repent of your sins before God continually. Sin clings to you so easily, but God’s love and mercy never fail. Develop a habit of examining your conscience daily and admitting your sins to God, who opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. [James 4:6]
- You need to examine your ‘spiritual backpack’ and see what things are you carrying around but are not needed. What attachments do you have in life? What personal ambitions and plans do you have that you have not surrendered to God yet you keep on chasing them? Do you aim to please people first, rather than God?
- One thing that can truly bog you down in your spiritual race is a lack of forgiveness – and it can come in the form of anger, resentments, grudges and bitterness. You need to examine your life and acknowledge these things in your life, and then learn to forgive and let go. It is very difficult to do, but for your sake, you need to do it. This dead weight can literally cause you to stop the race – or get disqualified from it.
- What emotional baggage do you carry with you? Are you walking with self-doubt, anxiety, stress, fear, or other similar emotions? You need to deal with those emotions so you can be free to walk with and serve God.
- Learn to live with less spiritual ‘complications.’ Be faithful to the roles God has given you. Be committed to your daily prayer and scripture reading. It is a spiritual marathon, not a sprint. Have spiritual blinders so that you can be single-hearted and simple-hearted in your walk with God. You should be ready for a very long race, although you cannot know exactly when your finish line will be. Patience, long-suffering and endurance are vital character traits you need to have. Have peace in yourself, and develop a grateful disposition in life.
- Keep your eye and focus on the finish line. After all, this is your life hidden with God. See Colossians 3:1-4.
Other Scripture passages:
- Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.
- Colossians 3:1-4 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
- Philippians 3:13-14 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
- Other References: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 2 Timothy 4:7-8; and 1 John 1:9.
- Other references: Ecclesiastes 3:12-13; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Timothy 6:6-12; and Proverbs 16:20.
For personal reflection or group sharing
- What attitudes and way of thinking do you need to change for you to be joyful now and stay joyful?
Tom Caballes is the National Senior Administrator and a National Coordinator of the Lamb of God, a community of the Sword of the Spirit with 7 branches located throughout New Zealand. Tom also leads Kairos New Zealand, an outreach program for high school, university, and post-university aged people. From Living Bulwark, June/July 2017, used with permission.