Grace For Your Day May 15

When you read the New Testament, one thing you find is that there are many images that the Bible uses to describe the Christian life. For example, it compares it to warfare (Ephesians 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:3), boxing (1 Corinthians 9:26), slavery (Romans 1:1; Philippians 1:1), salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16), farming (Matthew 13:1-23), and childhood (1 Peter 2:2, 5).

However, one image that is often used by the writers of Scripture is that of a race because we are told to “run in such a way that you may win” (1 Corinthians 9:24). This same passage goes on to say that:

Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified (verses 25-27).

In a similar way, the Author of the Book of Hebrews uses the image of a race when he concludes the Hall of Faith. Hebrews 12:1-2 says:

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The key phrase in this passage is “let us run” because it reminds us how we are to approach the Christian life. We need to do it by running. The Author is telling us that, in light of all he has taught you so far in the Hall of Faith, you cannot become apathetic. You need to sweat and strive and labor hard in your pursuit of Christ. You need to lay aside anything that holds you back (your encumbrances) and anything that dishonors Him (your sin) and flee towards the cross.

The reason this is important is because many people are not in a race towards Christ at all today because they have become so distracted. They are like a man who comes to the starting block of a competition carrying fifty pounds of luggage under each arm. They are like an athlete who shows up at the stadium out of shape because he has spent too much time sitting on the couch which could not be any further from what this passage is telling us to do because the Greek word for “race” here is agon from which we get the term “agony.”

It does not refer to a luxurious trot but a painful, agonizing journey where you strain every muscle in your body in order to get to the finish line as quickly as possible. It is a sobering lesson of how seriously we need to take our faith. We need to be so diligent about it that we agonize over it. It needs to consume all our thoughts and energy which is what we are going to talk about this week at Grace Fellowship Church.

It has been said that “a picture is worth 1,000 words” and that is what you see in this passage. The author gives us an amazing mental picture of what it looks like to be a Christian and it is an image that we all need to remember because the Christian life is not described as a walk or jog or trot here. It is described as a race.

Are you willing to look at it that way today? Are you ready to drop everything that slows you down so you can pursue Christ with all your might?

Please join us as we talk about that this Sunday morning. The service begins at 9:30.

– Jeremy Cagle