There is so much political division in our country. What is the church’s responsibility to bring unity to our nation? I do not believe that the answer lies in politics. However, sometime Biblical issues become political. These issues must be defended. But our preaching will always be Christ and Him crucified (I Corinthians 2:2).
What is the church’s mission? First of all the apostle Paul reminds us in Galatians 3:27, 28, “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one with Christ Jesus.” This is where the peace of Christ reigns. We are all redeemed sinners, we all have a past but we are saved by grace.
In 2 Timothy 4:2 Paul tells Timothy that he is to “preach the word, be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching”. This means that pastors are to preach the gospel even when it offends and in today’s world, it will offend. This is what we are called to do. Politics is not the mission of the church.
What is our goal? Our goal is in Hebrews 12:1,2: “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.”
Picture the Superdome filled with people. You are on the field. The occasion is a footrace, a distance event. The contestants include the author of Hebrews and the Christian community, and by mutual faith, us. The cloud of witnesses fill the Dome. Who are they? They are the great spiritual giants of the past. The hall of faith members. They are witnesses by the fact that their past lives are witnesses to their persevering faith.
Everywhere you look in the Dome there is someone in the stands nodding encouragement to you. It’s as though they are saying “I did it, so can you.” However our eyes are not fixed on the crowd in the stands. They are fixed on Jesus. He is the one who has run the path before us, and He offers one the preeminent example of how the race is to be run.
The word translated founder can communicate the idea of a champion or an initiator. The word is used in Hebrews in the context of Christ bringing of salvation. Both the words forerunner and champion fit the athletic imagery of the passage.
Jesus accomplished the perfection of our faith by His sacrificial death on the cross. He has cleared the path of faith so that we may run it. The way is open, and although obstacles exist, the roadblocks have been removed.
In Verse 2 the verb translated shame means to treat someone or something as if he had little value. The word occurs in Jesus’ proclamation that no one can serve two masters, rather, one will be loved and the other shamed (Matthew 6:24). That Jesus shamed the cross means that He treated it as insignificant or of little consequence.
On the cross, Jesus was treated as shamed, being mocked and ridiculed. He however, turned the experience inside out, shaming the shamed or despising the shamed. The cross was insignificant compared to the joy set before our Lord. The end result of its shame was His exaltation at God’s right hand. Therefore, we are encouraged to look beyond our present difficulties to God’s promised reward. This is the Christian’s mission as well as the Christian’s goal.