The body’s needs are few: it wants to be free from cold, to banish hunger and thirst with nourishment; if we long for anything more we are exerting ourselves to serve our vices… —Seneca, On the Shortness of Life
If you’ve studied the ancient Olympics, then you know they didn’t spend a lot of money on sports attire. Instead, the athletes stripped down and competed in their events while naked. Liberating, don’t you think?
On the other end of the racing spectrum, today’s marathon runners will sometimes start the race in costume—maybe the Mario Brothers or a big yellow banana. But I’ve never seen a costumed runner at the finish line. Somewhere around mile six or seven, the runner heads into the trees and strips off that costume, so they can finish the race unencumbered.
Like a banana costume, it’s possible to bring things into our lives that increase the difficulty of running. As a result, our race becomes less enjoyable and more of a grind. Today’s text reminds us to stop sabotaging our race:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders … (Hebrews 12:1a)
So tell me, what hinders you in the Christian life? Baggage from your past? Anxieties? The desire to be wealthy? Maybe Netflix is a distraction. Perhaps your hobbies consume you.
There are a thousand things that can keep us from running freely. But identifying these hindrances is tricky. They aren’t necessarily sinful activities, and while one thing might distract me, it may not hinder your walk with Jesus at all. A great example of this difference can be seen when we compare Moses and Joseph. Moses left a position of power and wealth in Egypt in order to follow God. But Joseph ran his race for God from a position of leadership within that very same nation.
So how do you determine what’s hindering your ability to run the race? Try to have a conversation with Jesus and ask Him today.
As He answers you, invite His Spirit to lead you away from those things. But a word of advice: Don’t mistake your hindrances for rules, thinking, Since I’m not doing this, then neither should you. The criticism and judgment of other believers are banana costumes—they have no place in your race.