5 November 2015Hebrews 12:1-3
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us” (v. 1)
Psalm: Psalm 119:97-112
(This imaginary person has heard those words read, but has not quite grasped their meaning.)
A cloud of witnesses? What's all that about? You don't still think that heaven is up there on a cloud, do you? Where's your common sense? I can't see rows and rows of little legs dangling up above me. Can you? And why would they be watching me, anyway? What possible interest could that be to them - presuming they were ever there, of course? What I know about clouds is that they're either white and fluffy in a blue sky on a fine day, or black and gloomy and raining on me when it's miserable weather. Cloud of witnesses, indeed!
What do you mean, "What about the other kind of cloud?" Now you're trying to be clever, aren't you? Yes, I do know all about those theoretical 'clouds' where you can store your computer information and files - and pay for it, of course. And I know there must be trillions of pieces of wisdom and intelligence stored there along with a whole load of trivial rubbish too. But nobody has access to all of it, do they? You've got to have a password just to get into your own files, so what's your point?
Supposing each one of us could have access to all that wisdom? Well we get that on the internet, don't we? OK, maybe our individual files have more personal experience in them so we could learn about how others cope in a crisis, or have a life-changing faith. So what?
Wouldn't it help us cope better when we hit a crisis ourselves, knowing that other people understood and were encouraging and supporting us as we struggled? Could do! But … ! Oh, hang on a minute. I get it now. You mean that imaginary cloud of people hanging on to that imaginary cloud are the ones who are like a crowd in the stadium cheering on the athletes as they race around the track - willing them to win!
Well, why didn't you say that in the first place? I'll buy that!
- Some of the imagery in the Bible can be puzzling, or seem outdated. How do you cope with that yourself, or explain it to someone who needs to understand?
- Who would you include in the cloud of witnesses who would support you and encourage you by their example of faith?
- Athletes have to train hard to compete. How do you train to sustain your faith?