A great cloud of witnesses

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).

In 1534 Thomas More was imprisoned in the Tower of London. He would be executed by King Henry VIII in July of the following year. Among other things, he used his time in the Tower to write A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation. It is a fictional dialogue between two people, Anthony and Vincent. During the conversation, Anthony provides sage and faith-filled wisdom to the younger Vincent.

At one point, Anthony sets the following scene. Imagine that you are walking down a wide street through the middle of a city. On one side there are “a rabble of ragged beggars and madmen” who are calling you names and using all sorts of “villainous words.” But along the other side of the street there are “wise and worshipful” people, praising you and cheering you on. And there are fifteen times more of them than there are people who are slandering you on the other side!

Given the situation just described, would you turn back and be totally discouraged by the first group of “mad foolish wretches”? Or would you keep marching forward, head held high, heartened and invigorated by the huge crowd of “that other honourable company”?*

You would march forward with your head held high!

So do it.

You can’t always see them, but in Christ you are “surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses”—past, present and future. Historically they are called “the communion of saints.” They are encouraging you forward in “the race marked out for us.”

Don’t let the boos of the few distract you from the cheers of the many.

Keep fixing your eyes on Jesus, “the pioneer and perfecter of faith,” who is the greatest Champion of all.

By Matthew Ruttan

*Thomas More, A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation, ed. Terri Ann Geus (Mineola: Dover, 2016), 237.

–Bible quotes are from the NIV.

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