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Hebrews 12:1-3 • Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
    —Hebrews 12:1-3 (NASB)

One of my endearing personality quirks which has been known to drive some people cuckoo is my obsession with analyzing the lyrics of songs sung at church. I hold to the radical belief that musical style isn’t very important and whether it’s a modern chorus or an ancient hymn or something in between, the lyrics should be based on biblical truth. Recently I began obsessing over a worship team’s choice to use a song whose main tag line, repeated over and over throughout the song, is “I surrender to Your love”. As nice sounding as it may be, it’s not a phrase or concept that I can find in Scripture. And I would suggest that it distracts away from the stated truths that we should surrender to His will, surrender to His Word, or to fight against sin’s every influence. Nowhere in Hebrews does the author question the need for Christ’s love, only the proper response to it which is most often characterized by the word “endure”.

The “cloud of witnesses” referred to here summarizes the “faith hall of fame” just expounded upon in Hebrews 11. These verses are a kind of exhortation as to what to do with the information provided of all those who demonstrated biblical faith, which is to “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us” and to “run with endurance…fixing our eyes on Jesus“. In other words we don’t need to “surrender to His love” but to endure to the end, overcoming sin. Having such a fixation on Jesus is actually healthy because He is “the author and perfecter of faith” who provided a personal example of fixing His own eyes on “the joy set before Him” so that He “endured the cross” — that is, accomplished God’s will and overcame sin. We’re supposed to “consider Him who has endured such hostility” as the example of how to conduct our own life so that we’ll “not grow weary and lose heart“.

I obsess over congregations coming together to earnestly sing “I surrender to Your love” because while it may make them feel good emotionally, it doesn’t address the key issues which actually help conform their life to His love. The Bible is literally filled with repeating pleas by God to consciously reject sin and to endure according to the boundaries of His Word regardless of the circumstances, seeking to satisfy God in eternity rather than settling for temporary relief. That Christ was such an example so as to eventually sit down “at the right hand of the throne of God” came about not by surrendering to love, but the cross. His faith in the Father in the seemingly worst of circumstances resulted in the most powerful accomplishment of His will and defeat of sin ever. So it is with us.