Running the Race--Firm in the FaithHebrews 12:1 says, “Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish.”
I think there’s a reason Paul chose to compare our faith to a race. A race is hard. It’s challenging. It’s not for wimps, and certainly not for the faint of heart. Neither is the Christian faith. It requires perseverance and overcoming obstacles that hinder our relationship with Jesus.
I ran cross-country in high school and continue to run long distances. Running an actual race is similar in many ways to running our race of faith. For instance, there’s nothing more encouraging in a race than having a fellow runner beside you. A running buddy knows how hard it is to endure. A running buddy can hold you up, share your burden, encourage, and challenge you. Each one of you is my running buddy in this race of faith—this pursuit of becoming more and more like Jesus one day at a time.
Another comparison. Each time I attempt a long run, one small part of my body refuses to cooperate. Along about my fourth or fifth mile, one of my small toes—the-little-piggy-that-had-roast-beef—cramps up. It hurts—more than you’d think a small, insignificant toe is capable of. And it severely hampers my running efforts. Who would have thought one small little piggy could cause such disastrous pain? Although that little toe doesn’t stop me from running, it sure makes the race more difficult. A single complacent Christian can have the same effect on the body of Christ. The church can move forward, it can continue on its journey, but certainly not as easily, and certainly not without pain. When every part of my body is healthy and in working order, the race is indeed a wonderful thing to run.
The most satisfying part of the race? The finish. The end. When the discomfort is over, when I know I’ve endured and done my best. I’m confident the finish to our race of faith will be much more rewarding. And so let’s continue running this race for Jesus, hoping that at the finish we’ll hear him say, “Well, done, good and faithful servant! You ran the race I marked out for you, and you ran it well. You endured. You were firm in your faith. Let’s celebrate together!”