Ditch the Banana Suit
There are many places in scripture where the Christian life is compared to a race or the act of running. We even define Christians as those who Follow Jesus.
One classic text is Hebrews 12:1,
Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us...
What I love about this verse is it that describes how we are to run with endurance: we are to lay aside the sins and weights that cling to us.
Many of you have ran actual physical races: marathons, ½ marathons, 10ks, 5ks.
When I was in veterinary school my class performed a 0.5K race. Now, if you were there you’d realize it wasn’t quite a race, but more of a meander or a trot. It was fifty of us hanging out at a restaurant/bar, and after a few hours we all left and walked three blocks to a random pole, then turned around and walked back. We got a T-shirt. Not much to endure. No training needed. So it should be easy, right?
During this 0.5k race, a friend of mine (we’ll call him Kevin) had too much to drink. Kevin was being weighed down by the sin of drunkenness. But, he was also being weighed down by the very large banana suit he was wearing. During the race, my friend found himself in front of a hurdle he needed to cross: a very small curb. Kevin tried his best to endure the curb, to leap over it, but the alcohol and banana suit where too much for him. He fell hard and broke his arm.
At that moment, Kevin’s short race became very painful and difficult.
We naturally understand that if we are running a race we should lay aside drunkenness.
If I’m drunk I won’t run well. As Christian we also understand that we should lay aside sins. We know this. But Hebrews is telling us here that we should also lay aside weights, which are different than sins. Weights are not necessarily bad things. In fact, they can be good things (phones, computers, food, entertainment). But I want you to have in mind the image of wearing a banana suit. A banana suit is potentially a really good thing: a Halloween party, if you want to attract a gorilla…?
But they’re not good if you’re running a race. Many of us need to lay aside weights, good things, so we can run with endurance…
Now, if you’re like me, you’re going to hear this and say, “Wait, wait, I’m already trying to ditch sins, and it’s really hard… and now you’re saying I also need to focus on ditching my non-sins?! If weights can be good things, then that means anything can be a weight! So I have to constantly look at everything? That sounds like a lot of work. It sounds exhausting.”
Is that how we’re supposed to run? Obsessively looking at every little thing? What does Hebrews say? Keep reading the verse:
Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin… looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.
Looking to Jesus!
This is how we are to endure our race. Weights and sins are not our focus.
Jesus is our focus, because He is our Joy.
We are not Christians based on what we are running from (away from sin), but based on Who we are running toward! The posture of Christians is not fearfully running away from sin, constantly looking back over our shoulder. No, it’s joyfully running to Jesus, stepping on the neck of sin as we run over it, as well as ditching anything, sins or otherwise, which slow us down or obscure our vision of him!
Yes, it takes endurance. Running is hard work; we are to flee from sin. But since we are focused on Jesus, we start wanting to lay aside sins and weights so we can run more swiftly after him. We stop setting the bar low and merely asking, “Is this a sin?” or, “Can I get away with this?” The question expands and blossoms into, “Does this help me run?”
Many of us are tripping over small curbs, breaking our arms, because we’re not running with our face towards Christ; we’re only trying to avoid sinning, and we end up wearing banana suits and not even knowing it. I don’t want that for you.
This is a totally different way to live our lives. It’s not legalistic morality, or mere behavior modification. It’s fixing our gaze on Christ, looking to Him as our joy.
So let us joyfully throw away anything, sin or otherwise, that doesn’t help us run.
This reminds us of our need to confess our sins to God.
Prayer of Confession
Father, we confess that we often take our eyes off of Jesus. Too often we care little about our race. Psalm 101 says, “I will not set before my eyesanything that is worthless.” Yet we confess that we constantly cling to things that are weighing us down and tripping us up. This is a great evil because it means we are looking to things other than you for our joy.
Lord, please bring to mind right now the worthless things that we set before our eyes, which obscure our vision of Jesus and hinder our running.
For your Word says that “whatever is not from faith is sin.” We want to throw aside anything that is not from faith and not helping us run to Jesus.
Father, to that end we confess our sins to you now.