By Steve Popoola
I love football, the sport Americans call soccer. In Africa and in Nigeria particularly, this sport commands a very large followership and has the highest number of fans compared to other sports. I have noticed that one of the best times to drive in the city of Lagos is when a crucial match involving any of our national teams is going on. The roads would be free as people would be in their homes, offices, hotels or viewing centres watching the match.
You can tell by the mood of the crowd how the match is going. When the crowd is in a sombre mood and everywhere is so quiet you could almost hear the sound of a pin dropping on the ground, then you know the match isn’t going well in favour of the home team. When however you see smiles on their faces and you hear then cheering, you will know that their team is winning.
Now this does not only happen in football but also in other sports as well. The Olympics for instance is one major event, which captures the attention of every nation in the world. For most events, not only are the eyes of those in the arena fixed on them but also that of millions of people from all over the world.
In Hebrews 12:1, we are told that as Christians, we have a great cloud of witnesses watching us as we run the Christian race. These people are our fans. We can’t see them but they can see us. For every victory we achieve, they cheer and celebrate but when we fail, they obviously cannot celebrate but wonder why we could not utilize the resources at our disposal to win.
“A huge cloud of witnesses is all around us. So let us throw off everything that stands in our way. Let us throw off any sin that holds on to us so tightly. Let us keep on running the race marked out for us” (Heb 12:1)
Paul the Apostle understood that an athlete could lose an event if he indulges himself and lacks the discipline required to win the race. He therefore translates this to our spiritual race as well. There is so much that can hinder us from winning the race. It takes courage, determination and the will to succeed!
What are these things that can hinder us and keep our heavenly fans quiet? In the King James Version, they are called weights and besetting sins. The weights are those things, which can slow us down. A physical example is David’s inability to go ahead when dressed up in the armour Saul gave to him. He had to get rid of it before he could go into battle against Goliath. (1 Sam 17: 38 – 39).
These weights are things that are not particularly sinful but have the ability to weight us down spiritually. One example that comes to mind is materialism. Jesus also talked about this when He said, “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Luke 16:13)
When we focus more on things, there is the tendency for us to lean towards those things to the detriment of our spiritual well being. Our prayer time suffers, our study of God’s word suffers and ultimately our spirit man suffers when we give more time to efforts that will reward us materially. Sometimes we explain this away by saying, ‘I need to make more money so that I can give more for the expansion of God’s kingdom on earth’. However, we should realize that our interface with God is our spirit man and not our physical body. What is the use if we give our all to God and we have no relationship with Him? This is paying more attention to the gift than to the giver!
The sin, or rather, the besetting sins are those sins, which take advantage of our physical weakness. They are the sins that we find ourselves committing time and time again. Some have even concluded that there is nothing they can do about those particular sins. You hear people say things like ‘God understands’. We need to understand that some people have faced the same challenges and trials we are going through today and they succeeded. These people are our heavenly fans. They are cheering us on and telling us, ‘You can do it!’ even when you stumble, they encourage you on.
When you overcome those sins and weights, just imagine a sea of people in a stadium waving flags with your name on it and celebrating your victory! On the alternative, if you give in to the weights and the sin, which easily besets, imagine how quiet the arena would be. Imagine being a fan of a team losing an event at a time when the team had everything going for them.
Let us run the Christian race bearing in mind that we have heavenly fans rooting for us. Unlike the Olympics, this is one race we cannot afford to lose. Let us run with the mindset of a champion.
Steve Popoola is the editor of Biblepraise Newsletter and the webmaster of Biblepraise Fellowship Online at http://www.biblepraise.org . British by birth, He currently resides in Lagos , Nigeria with wife Maris and their children; Praise, Stephanie and Precious. He works as an IT professional in a bank. He presently serves as Church Secretary and Head of Music Ministry in his local church. He is the Moderator/Editor of Biblepraise Newsletter. He can be reached through His email address, email@example.com