We all know well the excitement and drama of a race. Whether it is a 100-metre dash at the Olympics or a marathon on TV; whether the runner is a top athlete or just an elementary student at Track & Field Day, we have all witnessed the stress of the starting line, the exertion of the event, and the last ounce of energy expended as the racer crosses the finish line. We’ve all seen it, done it, or experienced it in some way.
A race is a familiar biblical image used to describe the Christian experience. The Apostle Paul says the Christian should run the race of the Christian life and finish well. The writer of the Book of Hebrews talks about persevering in the race, and setting aside anything that will hinder.
As September approaches we stand at the cusp of another ministry year, and we see the challenges and opportunities before us as if we are at the starting line of a race.
What does the Bible teach us about this race? What are the kinds of things we need to know?
As individual members of the kingdom of God and church of Jesus Christ, and as a congregation called Calvary Baptist Church, we are called to a race – a race called the Christian life.
According to Philippians 4:12–16 there are four principles that the Apostle Paul says we must do to run the race well:
- We must recognize that we have not got it all figured out. Let’s not get caught in the trap of thinking that we’ve got this race in the bag. We still need Jesus and we need Him in our lives and in our church. Big time! He is the object of our faith and His love motivates us to continue running the race.
- We must recognize and throw away our forms of self-righteousness that we think will get us to God. Legalism is deadly. We will never earn God’s favour by creating rules for ourselves or by setting up hoops for other people to jump through before they come to Christ. We cannot make God love us or others any more than He already does; all we need is Jesus’ righteousness.
- We must strive and strain—because it is hard work! We have been called to a cross and a race. Reaching people for Christ - making disciples – isn’t easy. It takes determination and courage to talk to people about life and faith. May God continue to cause us to work hard at this task for His kingdom and glory.
- We must focus on the goal of the mission—the goal of knowing Christ, and eternal life with God. Somehow we must put Jesus at the heart of everything we think, do, say, decide, and see. Everything in this world revolves around what we do with Jesus. Paul says that the goal is to know Christ in a way that is personal and real. This is our goal with others, that by showing the love of Christ to them they might come to know God through Jesus Christ. This is the ultimate eternal life.
It’s an exciting time to be a follower of Jesus Christ and I am looking forward to the year ahead with great anticipation. At times it will seem like a 100-metre dash, and at other times it will feel as if we are enduring a 26-mile marathon to the finish line. But make no mistake - it is a race!
I firmly believe that renewing our passion for evangelism through Alpha and refreshing our commitment to Life Groups will pay huge dividends as we take the mission of our Lord – the mission of our church – seriously in the days and months to come. Are you onboard? I hope you are, because it’s going to be a great race!