Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Jesus, Our Pacesetter

Chuck Swindoll's Sunday message from Heb. 12:1-3 reminded me that life is a crazy race. We're in for quite a ride in 2022! It's already been an adventure, hasn't it? The thing about life is that you can't just stand still. If you to want to learn, grow (grow up), change, and discover who you are in Christ, you've got to keep on running the race. 

Chuck was clear: God wants our individual races to be as authentic and joyful as possible. To that end, he gave us his Son as the "Pioneer" and "Perfecter" of faith. So as you run your race this year, you've got to  follow your "Pioneer" Jesus. Now, Chuck didn't say anything about this particular word so maybe I will. 

Calling Jesus the Pioneer of faith (and of salvation in 2:10) defines Christ's action and our situation. The closest analogy from modern life I can think of is the pacesetter in a road race like a marathon or half marathon. They're the people often dressed in colorful outfits holding a sign with the pace you want to run during that race. 

They are people who have completed that race many times and know the end from the beginning. So by calling Jesus the Pacesetter of the race, the author of Hebrews is identifying him as the one who leads people forward, just as the heads of Israel's tribes led the people forward in the wilderness (Num. 10:4; 13:2-13). Jesus our Pacesetter has completed the race that we are now running. He leads us to victory, just as in 6:20 he is the forerunner who has gone before the people of God into the sanctuary. 

There's one thing I have to come to appreciate about the pacesetters I've followed during my races. They inspire confidence. It's as if they were saying to us, "You can make it. Just keep your eyes on me." On the other hand, a sustained neglect of the pacesetter will derail your race in one way or another. 

Life is a race. God designed it that way. His plan all along was for us to struggle so that we could grow, develop, change, expand, move ahead. God is constantly urging us to make forward progress. But the first step in any race is to pick your pacesetter. And the amazing thing is that Jesus is the perfect Pacesetter for every person at whatever level of racing ability. That's why the Christian life is the Ultimate Road Race. 

Are you ready to follow Jesus in 2022? Why not pause right now and thank him for his companionship and leadership on the road you're on, or ask him to journey on with you as you begin a new road. We really can't enjoy the road race until we've done this.