'Fix our eyes on Jesus, keep running the race'
Baptists have been urged to be secure in their identity in Jesus, get rid of things that hinder, deal with their sin - and keeping running the race
That was the message from the Revd Lisa Holmes, senior minister of Skipton Baptist Church in Yorkshire, in the Saturday night address at the Baptist Assembly.
Taking Hebrews 12: 1-3 as her text, Lisa recounted the story of her participation in the London Marathon. She had a strong ‘now or never’ urge to apply following a significant birthday, and much to her surprise, won a place. A year later she was on the start line ‘quite terrified, massively excited, and not sure about what lay ahead.’
These feelings were familiar to her calling to ministry, and for many of us, that’s the reality. ‘More unprepared than you realise.’
To overcome this uncertainty, we need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Jesus knew who he was and why he had come. He was 'deeply secure in who he was and who his father had called him to be', said Lisa – and we need to have that.
She reminded delegates that they are loved, accepted, forgiven, equipped, and enough!
Being secure in Christ allows us to make space for other people; allows us to cheers people on; to love without the need for reward. It enables us to be brave and make courageous decisions. It permits us to let go of our need to fix people.
It allows us to 'live in the tension between truth and grace and mess – we don’t need to be the Messiah'. Globally we are surrounded by insecure leaders, who are needy, power grabbing, arrogant, and not able to admit they are wrong. ‘That’s not what we need in the church,’ said Lisa, ‘We are who we are in Christ.’
We also need to get rid of anything that trips us up. It’s a tough enough race to run without being weighed down by extra baggage. She reminded delegates that we all have failures that need forgiveness. We also all get hurt. Are we willing to forgive? Like Jesus has forgiven us? Are we willing to find healing?
‘My friends,’ Lisa said, ‘we have a saviour who specialises in healing of wounds – will we let him?’
Lisa moved onto dealing with our sin. Hebrews says that we need to deal with sin that tangles around our feet. She said, statistically, in this room, there will be some people struggling with pornography. A number of people who she trained with have left the ministry route because of affairs. Investing in Godly leadership means dealing with sin, putting down the baggage, otherwise our effectiveness will be hindered and 'we may even be disqualified from the race'.
Lisa returned to the story of the London Marathon. It was going well, but at 19 miles she had a pain in her knee and was reduced to walking. She was ‘frustrated and fed up… my knee hurt. A lot. My emotions even more.’
With two miles to go, she resolved to run. This finish line was one worth running for. At this moment she saw her family in the crowd, and shared this photo.
‘This was my face. Joy over pain, over disappointment, even over achievement. It was joy coming home.’
She spoke of Jesus, and Hebrews 12:2 - For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
'We need to remember we are running home, and we are running to Him,' Lisa said. 'Jesus is the finish line. So be secure in our identity in him. Get rid of things that hinder. Please deal with sin. Confess it.
'And run and run, with heads held high.'