The Race – Part 4

20 06 2017

therace04
Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrew 12:1-2

It would be absolutely ridiculous if a runner got to the starting line and when the gun is fired, instead of running in his lane on the track, he begins to run in his own tight little circle. Unbelievably this is what many Christians do day in and day out. Instead of running the race that God has placed in front of them, they run in their own little circle. The Hebrews 12 passage says that we are to run the race that lies before us. There are two important implications in this short phrase that we each need to understand.

The first implication is that there is a path set up for us to follow and run. This is not a hidden path. God has revealed this path to us and it is very clearly marked. There seems to be an ongoing struggle among Christians to find the will of God for their lives, but there should be no difficulty. Scripture is crystal clear in a thousand instances that we are to be about redeeming lost people, particularly unreached people groups, back to God through Jesus. In 2 Corinthians 5:20 Paul says, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf: ‘Be reconciled to God.'” This is God’s will for our lives! This is the race set before us. The confusion in discerning God’s will comes when we are not running on this main path. For example, many high school students struggle with the decision on what college to attend, yet the decision becomes incredibly easy if they are running the race that lies before them. The questions change from personal, selfish questions that God will probably never answer to questions about where you can be the most effective for the kingdom and run the race more fully. These are questions that God will answer!

Since becoming a father myself, my understanding of the will of God has broadened. I am really not concerned with what my boys want to become, be it an astronaut, teacher, or trash collector, as long as they are running the race that lies before them. I simply want them to strive to be the best racer that they can be with this one, brief life that they are given. I certainly want to guide them in their decisions, and I believe God does that for us as well, but the most important thing I can do is to teach them about the race and allow them to run the best they can with the gifts and talents that God has given them. As parents and teachers, we ask the wrong questions of our children. We ask them what they want to be when they grow up, but the correct questions for Christians are, “What does God want you to be?” or, “What can you do to be the most effective for God’s Kingdom?”

The second implication of the phrase “the race that lies before us” is that this phrase is inclusive of everyone who is a follower of Jesus. The pronoun “us” includes you. Many people respond to this passage as if the pronoun is “them.” This phrase is for people who go as missionaries to another country, but not me. This phrase is for people who are radical Christians, but not for a normal Christian like me. This is how we respond. In his book Crazy Love, Francis Chan would say that this “normal Christian” is really no Christian at all. How can one say they are on the track team but refuse to run the race? It makes no sense, and yet this is how many people live their lives. We will even redefine running so as to justify our disobedience. We will say that running is going to church most every Sunday or reading our Bible or knowing a lot about the faith or giving money, but in the end we know these are empty without the giving of our lives for the gospel.

Will you have the courage to run the race that lies before you? It’s tempting to run our own little race where we are rewarded by this world, but it is difficult to disdain the blessings of this world for the greater blessing of a future glory.

“We will not wish we had made more money, acquired more stuff, lived more comfortably, taken more vacations, watched more television, pursued greater retirement, or been more successful in the eyes of this world. Instead, we will wish we had given more of ourselves to living for the day when every nation, tribe, people, and language will bow around the throne and sing the praises of the Savior who delights in radical obedience and the God who deserves eternal worship.”
― David Platt, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream


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