Discipline in a Long–Distance Race 12 1Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. 2Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. 3When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! 4In this all–out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! 5So don’t feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children? My dear child, don’t shrug off God’s discipline, but don’t be crushed by it either. 6It’s the child he loves that he disciplines; the child he embraces, he also corrects. 7God is educating you; that’s why you must never drop out. He’s treating you as dear children. This trouble you’re in isn’t punishment; it’s training, 8the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? 9We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God’s training so we can truly live? 10While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God’s holy best. 11At the time, discipline isn’t much fun. It always feels like it’s going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it’s the well–trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God. 12So don’t sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! 13Clear the path for long–distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it! 14Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. 15Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time. 16Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short–term appetite. 17You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing—but by then it was too late, tears or no tears. An Unshakable Kingdom 18Unlike your ancestors, you didn’t come to Mount Sinai—all that volcanic blaze and earthshaking rumble—19to hear God speak. The earsplitting words and soul–shaking message terrified them and they begged him to stop. 20When they heard the words—“If an animal touches the Mountain, it’s as good as dead”—they were afraid to move. 21Even Moses was terrified. 22No, that’s not your experience at all. You’ve come to Mount Zion, the city where the living God resides. The invisible Jerusalem is populated by throngs of festive angels 23and Christian citizens. It is the city where God is Judge, with judgments that make us just. 24You’ve come to Jesus, who presents us with a new covenant, a fresh charter from God. He is the Mediator of this covenant. The murder of Jesus, unlike Abel’s—a homicide that cried out for vengeance—became a proclamation of grace. 25So don’t turn a deaf ear to these gracious words. If those who ignored earthly warnings didn’t get away with it, what will happen to us if we turn our backs on heavenly warnings? 26His voice that time shook the earth to its foundations; this time—he’s told us this quite plainly—he’ll also rock the heavens: “One last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern.” 27The phrase “one last shaking” means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered. 28Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. 29He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God himself is Fire!
The Message® / © 2002 Eugene H. Peterson About