Advent: Day Eighteen – Pioneer + Perfecter
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, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who…endured the cross…and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. —Hebrews 12:1–2 (NRSV)
Professional long-distance runners devote countless hours to training their bodies. Working out to strengthen muscles; eating the proper food; getting enough sleep; mentally preparing for fatigue, weather conditions and opponents’ strategies; even selecting the proper footwear and clothing—these are the things that make for success. And they rely on a coach to guide their preparation and help them achieve goals they wouldn’t be able to reach on their own.
Hebrews 12 reminds us that Christians likewise need to train for the life of faith with effort and intention. Our help comes in Jesus—the Pioneer and Perfecter of our faith. He initiates faith within us and leads us to the Father by the example of His life. His Spirit cultivates our growth toward maturity, equipping us with tools to overcome challenges and failures on the road to transformation. Those who came before us in faith motivate us to continue.
In the Middle East, many followers of Jesus from Muslim backgrounds begin their new journeys of faith with heavy burdens. Some are refugees facing uncertain futures while grieving significant loss. Others bear psychological scars inflicted by oppressive political, social or religious systems. Most face the anger and rejection of their closest communities once they decide to embrace Jesus. But seasoned Christians are coming alongside to disciple and help them heal as God establishes their confidence in Him and gives endurance for the road ahead.
In Pakistan, Hindus from minority people groups like the Meghwal and Bhil are disadvantaged and shunned by other ethnic groups. Most live in poverty and are afforded few opportunities in life. A Christian ministry is showing God’s love by offering free education to Meghwal and Bhil children. As a result, some of the children and their families have begun to follow Jesus. With the help of compassionate Christian teachers, they’re learning to forgive past wounds and pray for their enemies.
As members of God’s global family, we’re called to attend not only to our own faith development, but also to His work in the lives of others. Where would you like to see your faith become stronger? Ask God to show you how to train your heart and mind for growth. Is there a way you can encourage a friend in their faith? Write them a note today to cheer them on.