Your Race of Faith?

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1 NLT)

Outside magazine ran an article on the best running tips of all time, based on forty years of articles. Among the suggestions: (1) Strengthen your whole body; don’t just focus on your legs. (2) Run more hills; it’s good for your hips. (3) Find a routine, then stick to it—maybe even down to wearing the same clothing. (4) Take recovery days seriously.

What are the implications for those of us who are running our race of faith? It’s no accident the first Commandment is: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). In summary – love God with every aspect of our being. Why is that so vital?

Have you ever done something “half-heartedly?” How’d that work out for you? How happy do you think your husband or wife would be if on Valentine’s Day you gave them a card that said: “I love you with most of my heart!” Or your boss gives you an assignment and you bring it back with: “Here’s my report, but my heart wasn’t in it.”

Yet, truth be told, many professing Christ followers are not loving and serving with their whole heart, soul, and mind. But why is that? Most have forgotten why they entered the race of faith to begin with. Admittedly, most of us become believers in Jesus, not for what we can do for Him, but for what He has done and can do for us.

Who wouldn’t sign up for forgiveness of all sin, peace, wholeness, and a place in heaven when we die? I’m convinced the only reason more people don’t come to Christ is because all of that seems too good to be true. But here’s the deal – it IS all true – it’s just not the whole picture.

Jesus said in Matthew 16:24: “If any one of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it.” That’s a primary reason the Lord gave us the Church, to help us know how to give all of us to all of Him.

Joseph M. Stowell wrote: “We run for Him—for Christ’s glory and for the honor of His name. We run for the advancement of His kingdom.” Jesus followers struggle for the same reason many would be “runners” wash out before their first race. Why? They wrongly believe it’s a one person sport. Yes, surely, in the race it’s often you against all the other runners, but that’s not how you train.

Training for being an effective “runner” for Jesus has many similarities to learning to run in a literal race. For serious runners they’ll have trainers; a nutritionist/dietitian; medical staff; a coach, who not only helps them train, but who guides them in their choice of clothing, including shoes specifically for their feet, type of track, etc.

In our initial zeal for Jesus, we think we can pray a prayer of confession and repentance and head to the “track,” not realizing we’re not in a sprint, we’re in a marathon. And it’s not a race we run alone, but with many other Jesus followers who can help us “train.” Which begs the question: Who’s training and running with you? Are you part of a dynamic, growing church where people are being saved, discipled, and guided into small groups who can challenge and help you grow as a child of God?

You won’t survive your race of faith without help from other believers who have been “running” longer than you. Find at least one other person you trust to “run” with you, someone who loves Jesus and you and is willing to pour into you what others have poured into them

Food for thought.

Blessings, Ed 😊

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