It seems as though Paul, in his letter to the Hebrews is all into the Olympic spirit. “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus…”
In many ways this seems like it could be the speech to open the Olympic Games.
When you think about it, isn’t ridding ourselves of burdens and sins really what the Olympics are supposed to be about. Setting aside politics and all the other troubles of the world and for 19 days finding peace in athletic competition. Considering the crowds in the stadiums and the millions watching on TV, there is a great cloud of witnesses surrounding the athletes and indeed all of us.
Of course Paul has much more on his mind as he writes to the Hebrews. He loves using analogies of sports, particularly running, to explain and or motivate others in the Christian faith. This great cloud of witnesses includes all believers here on earth as well as those who have passed from this life to the next, our ancestors and all the saints in heaven. Imagine the size of that cloud and how enthusiastically they are pulling for us and supporting us in our Christian journey.
What burdens and sins do we need to get rid of as we try to persevere in running the race of our Christian faith. What weighs us down, holds us back and continually trips us up.
Are our eyes fixed on Christ or something else? Like any runner on the track the one who is unfettered, determined and with eyes focused on the goal, the chances for success are high. In the same way, when we are free of our burdens and our sins we are able to set our face toward our goal, life in Christ.
Just when it might seem to be too much, not worth it or impossible to continue, all we need to do is remember that great cloud of witnesses spurring us on to victory.