I’d like to start our devotional today with Eugene Peterson’s paraphrasing of verses 12-17:

So don’t sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it!

Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise, you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time. Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing—but by then it was too late, tears or no tears. (MSG)

Hebrews 12 empowers us to be the body of Christ. Our prior readings in this letter to the Hebrews elaborated on the importance of faith and its challenges along the way, the great champions of faith that paved the way for us, and now the duty we have as faithful Christians in the lives of other children of God as we participate in the Kingdom of God here on earth.

Surround yourself, immerse yourself, around a great cloud of witnesses. Be in community with those experiencing the same challenging journey between faith and doubt. “Work at getting along with each other” might be one of the most challenging commands we receive. Even as Christians we have such a hard time loving, accepting, and including others. We find excuses and reasons to validate our passivity, indifference, or hatred toward others. Today, we are reminded that we need people and people need us. What a gift it is to have people in our lives. An incredible blessing from God a friend can be.

Friends, please do not endure this challenging journey alone. “Hot coals build a better fire when they are together. There is a harmony that cannot exist when we go solo.” This quote I once read speaks very loudly in my mind. Together, as a crackling fire we offer warmth. Be reminded of the warmth of others in your life. Don’t diminish the warmth you offer others. People need you! And further, we see God when we see people. How lovely that we are all created in the beautiful mystery that is the image of God. Let’s not take that for granted. I love you.