Saturday, March 5, 2011


A couple of different thoughts were running through my mind the other day while I was running. Actually, they've been running around in my head for a week or so.  I run fairly long distances and am working my way up to really long distances(you can keep up here).  This gives me lots of time to think things over.  I usually listen to music while I run, sometimes I pay attention to it, sometimes it is just background noise.  The other day the music just clicked with my thoughts and helped me to crystallize the two different thoughts into one coherent idea.  The first thought that I was working on was from Paul where he writes in Hebrews 12:1, "...let us run with endurance (perseverance) the race that is set before us."  Now, this may seem an obvious verse for a runner to think about, and I suppose it is.  But, I was really thinking about how my actual perseverance running applied to my metaphorical race.  What is our spiritual race that is laid out before us?  What is the nature of this race that requires endurance?
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We are not called as Christians to live comfortable safe lives.  We are called to a life of service, to be out in the world showing our faith by living it (Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid.)  Putting yourself out there, sharing your faith is not easy.  Loving our enemies, sharing the Gospel, helping others in need, having proper relationships with family, government, business... all these things are difficult to do every day.  As I wrote here, we are all called to be missionaries. Paul says in is second letter to Timothy, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith." We are even called to be faithful unto death.  While all these things are difficult, I don't think most of us really ever deal with most of these things.

I think the trouble most of us have is that we grow comfortable in our surroundings.  We surround ourselves with like minded people.  We don't leave our circle of friends and family.  By doing this we insulate ourselves from ever being put in a situation where we will be faced with people with different views, even (Gasp!) non-Christians. Even our churches are generally sanctuaries for saints, places full of like minded people with similar backgrounds, that come together every week to provide a safe place to have Bible lessons told to us.  To paraphrase and old saying, church has become a museum for saints instead of a school for sinners.  To me this means that many of us are not running, or even walking the race.  We are seated comfortably in the box seats observing the race.
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This is where the music I was listening to really struck me and things started to come together.  Running long distances is not easy, it takes dedication and determination, and it's hard on your body.  But, if you stop running for any length of time you start to lose your fitness level, it slowly fades. More difficult that if you had just kept running.  Remember when you were a new Christian? Not just the immediate feelings, but even weeks and months later.  You wanted to be involved, share your faith with everyone, you had a desire to bring other people to the fantastic place you found.  Over time this fades, we let people dampen our enthusiasm, we are shown by example that it's ok to sit on the sidelines and let worldly ideas slowly creep in.  We learn all the "church" answers to avoid stepping out of our comfort zone; "I don't feel called," "I'll have to pray about it," "I don't feel led to..." (while these can be valid reasons, I think they often become easy excuses for inaction)

I think there is a good reason that Paul uses running as his example.  It is hard to keep going running long distances, it takes endurance of pain and exhaustion.  I think Paul had in mind the run that the modern marathon was based on, the run by Pheidippides(300 miles, not just 26).  More than that, if you stop, then try to start up again it is so much harder than if you had just stayed at it all along.  Paul also talks about "fighting the good fight," and "putting on the whole armor of God." Being a Christian is not about being a spiritual couch potato.  It's about fighting a long battle physically, mentally and spiritually.  It's about giving it our all every day and not saving anything for the end, it will be too late to use it by then. 

A little motivational video with pictures and video from the Ironman Triathalon (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride 26.2 mile run).  My thought is... are we putting as much effort into being a Christian as these people are putting into this sporting event? Why not?



  1. Mark, American Christianity today is more like a spectator sport (or a group of pew potatoes sitting on the side lines) than a team of athletics running the race.
    Thank you for this inspirational
    and much-need word of truth!

  2. Thank you for your comment, and encouragement, I appreciate hearing from my readers.