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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Running and the Christian Life - The Differences

In other posts I have written about running and the Christian life, especially my life the last six years or so. Running is a metaphor used by Paul in his teaching on the Christian life and also in the book of Hebrews. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 924: "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it." In Hebrews 12:1, the author said, "And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us" comparing the Christian life with a race. He calls believers to set their eyes on Jesus as they run the race.

Today I ran my 6th full marathon and as I thought about how it relates to my Christian life, I realized the differences between these two. I have often thought about the similarities (which are many) but hadn't really thought of the differences.

First, running a marathon has the idea of competing to obtain a prize. Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 9 that those who run do it to earn an earthly or temporal reward, whereas, running the spiritual course has an unfading reward to those who complete it. All of us who compete in a marathon and complete it, receive a metal for participating but not for winning. Of course, there are winners but everyone gets a medal. Yet, in the Christian walk everyone who completes their walk will receive (or win) the crown of life. In other words, everyone wins (I don't hold to the theology that says that you can lose your salvation) in the end. The issue of rewards don't really factor here because this would be analogous to the time after the marathon is over.

Second, those who run a marathon have to pay a fee to enter. It is not free. The Christian race is by grace, God's unmerited favor. Though the price wasn't free for God, it was offered to us freely by the grace of God.

Third, those who run a marathon don't follow a person. Everyone is on it's own. Yes, there are people who run together but they are not obligated. Christians follow Jesus. He ran the race faithfully and completed it. We also follow the example of many believers from the past who have ran the course of faith faithfully.

Fourth, related to this, is the fact that in a marathon you don't receive strength from anyone. There are certainly many people who encourage along the way, but they cannot transfer their strength to those running. You are on your own. In the Christian life, we have the Holy Spirit who empowers us to live for Christ. He gives us his strength in our weakness so that we can continue following God faithfully until the end.

Fifth, a marathon is hard for most of us. It requires a lot of physical and mental effort. The difficulties lie in the areas of the body and the mind. As hard as it is, it is not as hard as the Christian faith. It is harder because it deals with the body, the mind and the spirit. We not only fight against our own sinful desires but we also fight with the enemy of our soul, Satan. This battle is extremely difficult. Furthermore, successfully completing a marathon does not have as a by product a successful physical and disciplined life. Running the race of faith leads to learning virtues that will build our spiritual character which will has an eternal impact. The things we learn here on this planet, will have an effect in our eternity with God.

As I reached the half point in today's marathon, I thought about my half-time in my Christian race. I  am at the half point of my life, if I do live up to 80 years. I said to myself, "I hope that do better in my Christian walk than I do in this marathon." I really hope so. I am striving at it with endurance and with the help of Christ. I hope you do as well!

Here are other posts about running:






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