Let us pray: Dear Savior, what a tremendous comfort it is to know that You are the Author and Perfecter of our faith! When we are weak and fearful and look inward for strength—finding none, it doesn’t matter, for You are there to give us Your strength and Your perfection! You are there to link us to the Godhead and provide us with the certainty that nothing can tear us away from God’s loving grasp. O, the joy and comfort You bring! Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE GIVER OF FAITH AND LOVE!
TEXT: Hebrews 12: 1-3
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
If you travel through Dublin, NH you’ll see it. “Yankee Magazine” has its headquarters there right on Rt. 101. And as you pass by you’ll see a blackboard affixed to the building. It has town news written upon it. It’s a quaint way of keeping the townsfolk informed of local doings. Today most use the internet for similar purposes. But, 100 years ago they had another way of spreading breaking news quickly. It was the town crier. You don’t know what the town crier was? Let me inform you. It was a person (usually with leather lungs) that would shout out news to the people. And he usually began his newsbrief with the familiar words: “Hear Ye! Hear Ye!”
All of you know the gospel. That is, the good news about how Jesus has saved our souls. Indeed, we hear it so often in church that sometimes I think we fail to really take it to heart and apply its richness to our lives. To counteract that I’m going to act the part of a town crier, a church crier, right now by telling you:
HEAR YE! HEAR YE! WORRY BE GONE!
Some of you who are prone to poison ivy reactions worry about its prevalence upon the church property. More than once during the clean-ups you’ve come to me and pointed it out. And my response to your worry is to get out my trusty “Brush Be Gone”, douse the offending plant, and in a few days it’s dead and gone. Well, the gospel is kind of like brush killer in that when we douse our lives with it, worry beats a fast retreat! I say this because worry equals fear. It’s born of the same cloth. It paralyzes us and even eats away at our faith. In fact, worry is really the absence of faith, isn’t it? The old Jamaican tune: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” says it all. When you’re filled with worry, happiness is elusive. So, a worry-filled Christian is sad and depressed. A worry-filled Christian takes the weight of the world on their shoulders and soon is crushed by it. God doesn’t want that, so: Hear ye! Hear ye! Worry Be Gone! Do you think that’s impossible? Well, remember that: “With God all things are possible.” Specifically with the gospel all things are possible.
After outlining in chapter 11 of Hebrews a catalogue of OT heroes of faith who by God’s grace triumphed over worry and fear and died in the glory of resurrection, the author of Hebrews goes on to say this: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, (note the present reality of these witnesses as they still live on in glory) let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Literally in the Greek language that means we must avoid pitfalls that will trip us up while at the same time fight our way out of the snares that Satan tries to throw around us while running toward heaven. So, what pitfalls has the devil laid before you?—Certain temptations such as lust or greed or envy that you find hard to resist? Has he hurled at you snares of financial worries and through them doubts about your future? Have these worries robbed you of your joy and taken away your happiness? And what’s the way out? How can you live in the “rest and quietness” we so pray for in the collect for peace?
Of course, the answer is also provided in our lesson. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Folks, right there we’re told to: Focus on the Gospel and when we do: Worry Be Gone! Think of what those beautiful words really mean? Think of the Godly power that lies behind them and causes them to banish worry? Christ is not only the author, or the One who wrote the book about faith and has given you that book; He is also the perfecter of faith, or the One who has taken your test of faith for you and scored 100%! He did that on the cross. He didn’t run away from it. He embraced all your worries and fears. He took them on His shoulders. And when He died, they died. And then He arose to life, a new life hallmarked by zero tolerance for fear. And His life is now your life through His gift of faith!
It’s kind of like this: Suppose you are facing a very hard test which you haven’t studied for and know you’ll flunk. The test demands 100% accuracy. If you miss even one question, you’ll fail. Talk about worry! Especially if your life hangs in the balance! But suppose you could pick one person, a life-line, who would take the test for you? Who would you pick? Well, I’d pick the person who wrote the test in the first place because that individual would know all the correct answers. Well, that’s what our lesson is telling us when it says that Jesus is the “author and perfecter” of our faith. He wrote the book about life (He’s the Creator and Savior) and He has taken our test of life and now lives to tell about it! He scored 100% and by His gift of faith gives You His perfection! You’re free from worry! Free from fear! Nothing can truly harm you everlastingly!
At this point I want to repeat our theme: Hear ye! Hear ye! Worry Be Gone! That’s the blessing that is yours through the gospel! So, as you continue to run your life’s race, keep this foremost in your mind. Yes, “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart!” Amen