What about us, then? We have such a great cloud of witnesses all around us! What we must do is this: we must put aside each heavy weight, and the sin which gets in the way so easily. We must run the race that lies in front of us, and we must run it patiently.
We must look ahead, to Jesus. He is the one who carved out the path for faith, and he’s the one who brought it to completion. He knew that there was joy spread out and waiting for him. That’s why he endured the cross, making light of its shame, and has now taken his seat at the right hand of God’s throne. [KNT]
Just a tiny bit of Greek has helped me grasp a deeper understanding of verse 2 here. Kataphroneo, translated here in The Kingdom New Testament as “making light of,” means to treat someone or something as if he or it had little value. Or you might say you reckon it to be of no value or importance, to “set it at naught,” emptying it of its potency. Disesteem.
As a young padawan, growing up in AWANA, I memorized Scripture out of the KJV. (No doubt, some of you have no idea what I just said.) There, it translates kataphroneo as “despising.” I was also familiar with the NIV’s rendering: “scorning.” I never really understood those words I had memorized and recited so many times. “Despising the shame,” yeah I’d despise that shame too! “Scorning?” Who uses that word anymore?
But we see a much deeper meaning here when we look at the rich and nuanced Greek. Jesus carved out our path by looking beyond the immediate, painful circumstances to the reward ahead. He treated the shame of the cross as insignificant or of little consequence, when compared to the joy awaiting Him up ahead.
Therefore, we are encouraged to look beyond our present difficulties and ahead to God’s promises. We are to fix our eyes on Jesus, as some translations read. This is how we endure hardship. This is what gets us through–looking to Jesus, looking ahead, beyond our present situation, beyond ourselves. Jesus reckoned the shame of the cross insignificant when compared to the joy waiting ahead of Him. As long as you’re focused on your crap, you’re a mess, depressing to be around, and most likely, a notch above useless.
I know this is harsh, but it’s true when you think about it. And I’ve been there, and still go there. I understand, I do it too. In this state, I am pathetic and no help to anyone. But hey, that’s a good place to be for calling out for help. And here we see the key. What I believe to be a major and yet very difficult necessity for living the Christian life is attuning our heart’s eyes and ears to Jesus in the midst of pain and discomfort. Reaching out to others for help when we need it as opposed to isolating into withdrawal and pity which becomes even more painful than the actual circumstance we find so awful!
We have every power and comfort at out fingertips, within us even, if we can only focus on Jesus and access it in those rough times.
When I said how pathetic and useless we can be in the self-focused times, I’m really talking about a perpetual state of problem-focused living. We’re all gonna go through stuff, that’s life. We’re all gonna get down. But what do we do with it? Who do we lean on? Where do we go? Staying in our upset, focusing on it, gives it more energy, power, and cancer-like growth.
Energy flows where attention goes.
And while focused on your upset, you generally complain. A lot. You drag people down with your whining.
We definitely want to be safe places for each other to unload, but we also do not want to allow each other to remain stagnant “treading water in a sea of mediocrity.”* As a wise preacher, whose name rhymes with “Rod Swisher” once said, “Jesus meets you where you’re at, but he doesn’t let you stay there.”
Can we talk about the above picture for two seconds? Yeah, I know, it’s very cheesy. Yet, it so simply displays a very basic, foundational truth. Perhaps, in its cheesiness, it will be memorable, and it can be a trigger to help you refocus on our Master, our Pioneer of faith, who is always there, ready to comfort us and guide us in the midst of even the worst circumstances or mindsets.
In Jesus’ Name
*from This Is Spinal Tap