“Let’s Go Mets!” The fans chant in an effort to get their team’s anemic offense going. But does it work? Although it does not hold for every sports team individually, it is generally true that home teams have a statistically significant greater chance of winning in their home stadium or arena; and one of the reasons might be the vocal support of their fans. There is a sense in which a fan feels like he or she is part of a team-effort to win a game. Whether or not this is true has been researched but is difficult to prove; yet it is certainly true that every Christian is part of a team-effort to win eternity.
In the epistle to the Hebrews, the author exhorts his readers and us to hold onto the faith (10:19-25), to resist falling away (10:26-31), and to not abandon the faith (10:32-39). With a litany of Old Testament saints showing the way, and Jesus as the supreme example, we are exhorted to run the race to the finish line (11:1-12:3). In chapter 12 we are called to endure the race with hardship as discipline designed by our heavenly Father for our good (12:4-11). But trials can become discouraging, and a common reaction to suffering is to give up; so, we need others to cheer us on helping us to win. As we look around at those in our church who are suffering, we are charged to lift a drooping hand, strengthen weak knees, or smoothen out the path for the lame (12:12-13). There are times in every Christian’s life where they feel weak and weary, but God has placed all of us, His children, in a family – the church – with brothers and sisters who are heading in the same direction, with whom we pursue peace and holiness (12:14) until the end of the race. God’s grace abounds in community.
We are commanded in verse 15: See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled (see Deuteronomy 29:18-19). The bitter root refers to those who abandon the faith and yet think they are safe from judgment. The sad illustration of the “bitter root” is pictured in Esau (12:16-17), whose lack of concern for the things of God was evident in his disdain for his birthright. Although he is given as a negative example, Esau serves as a warning designed to awaken us to danger and direct us to a hopeful future. When we see a brother or sister in our church headed in the way of Esau, we bear a mutual responsibility to exhort them to return to the narrow path. “Let’s Go (your name) !” Pursue peace and holiness!