So what has God done for you? When you tell people that story, they’re interested, because you’re being real. You’re being genuine. You’re opening yourself up to vulnerability – to skepticism. And when we tell people, who do not have God, our story – remember in previous iterations of this series, we’ve talked about telling your story, right? – when you tell your story, they can connect to it at some level. It might not be as a high a level as we would hope, but if they’re human and you’re human, there can be a connection.
So how do we overcome the innuendos against Christianity? I don’t mean that we can overcome it in society, but how can we get past being afraid of it in our lives today – to just let it out, to not give a rip, to just say it like it is? All of those innuendos, and threats, and ridicule and all of that, they were present in the day of the disciples. And now, after three hundred years of freedom, in this country, they’re on the rise again – to create the same doubt and the same distaste for our belief in God.
Let’s go to Hebrews 12:2 – breaking into the middle of one of Paul’s long sentences:
Hebrews 12:2 – looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
“Despising the shame” – what does that mean? Jesus had no regard for the attempt that was made by the devil to shame Him. You know, they hung Him on a cross, between two common thieves, and accused Him of blasphemy. It was a shameful thing that was done to Him. And He, in essence, said, “You know, I really don’t care what you think. I know what God wants Me to do.” He knew that in dying that way, He was going to open the door to salvation for all God’s children. So, for that joy, He endured the cross. And He despised the shame that they were trying to heap on Him. He was a faithful witness. But He had to despise the shame in order to do that.
So we just read chapter 12 – or part of it – verse 2 there. Let’s read what came before that in chapter 11. In chapter 11 of Hebrews, Paul recounts the acts of faith from the very beginning. In every age God’s people have been persecuted, and hounded, and made to feel shame for worshipping God. And yet, in every age, there have been Godly people who suffered rejection, persecution, torture, imprisonment and death in order to witness to what God had done in their lives. And you read the chapter and he starts with Abel, and how his sacrifice put him at risk, and yet he was willing to do that. And then Enoch, and then Noah, and then it goes on to Abraham, and his family, and then to Moses, and then on to the prophets, and David, and the other patriarchs.
Hebrews 12:1 – Therefore, we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin, which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. See, all these people, they were witnesses, too. They hadn’t seen the resurrection yet either or the crucifixion, but the witness of their life is recorded in scripture. And we’re surrounded with this “great cloud,” he says, “of witnesses.” And they’re to encourage us. They suffered things that are great and they just didn’t give a rip. They just laid it out there. So that’s there to encourage us to risk the vulnerability, expose ourselves to judgment, to ridicule and to shame. What he’s really doing there is inviting us into a select group of God’s heroes – faithful people – who despise the shame and didn’t care what people did to them.