The Prize

By Not Known

There”s something about a prize that makes us want it. Whether it”s the door prize at a social function, an academic award or a sporting trophy – we want to win. Our desire for the prize can push us to amazing acts of focus, self-discipline and self-sacrifice.

But what of we can”t see the prize? What if all we can see are the challenges and difficulties – along with a besetting distraction that is at least visible, as compared with our hoped-for-prize?

This can be a real spiritual problem. The Bible holds out the promise of sins forgiven and eternal life in God”s presence if we believe in Jesus (eg Jn 3: 16). But, what does forgiveness look like? And just what is eternal life and what are the alternatives? Part of our problem is that we cannot see God”s prize.

Meanwhile, we are called to pay visible costs of discipleship. Some in our church have been ostracised or banished by their families because they left the traditional religion. Others have their careers held back because they refuse to tell lies to clinch a deal or because they leave the work place at a sensible hour for family or ministry priorities. As for the rest of us, we pay the price of repeatedly saying ”no” to temptations that wider society indulges in and the cost of giving our time, talent and treasure to follow the Lord.

It can be heard to keep on track with Jesus when the costs are visible and the prize is invisible. The danger is that we can become weary and then fall by the wayside. For a time we may go through religious and churchly actions, but our heart is not with the Lord any more.

We are not the only ones who face these issues. The book of Hebrews is designed to encourage people like us to hang in with Jesus. It does this by highlighting the dread cost of abandoning him (eg 6: 4-), by holding out the secure reality that we already have in Christ (eg 10: 32- 39) and by mentioning the prise that awaits those who persevere (9:11-15).

Ours is not a tatty earthly prize. We awaits the glittering heavenly Jerusalem with it vast company of God”s people and the company of God himself (Heb 12: 22-24).This is a kingdom that cannot be shaken by political disturbances. It is a treasure that markets cannot snatch away (12: 28). And this is why we must now be outsiders. We are a people who go outside man”s city to bear the shame and disgrace of Jesus in the hope of his heavenly city (13: 13-14).

Let”s stay with Jesus – the prize is worth it.

David Burke