The writer of Hebrews imagines the Christian life to be a race. He warns that runners should be wary of “the sin that easily distracts” (NRSV, footnote).
It’s like you’re running that race and then, just when you see the finish line ahead, you start glancing around. Who’s gaining on me? What’s my competition? What happens if I stumble? What will others think of me if I fail?
Notice how, in looking around, you’re more concerned about yourself, and not why you’re running in the first place?
Many a good Christian has started their discipleship with good intentions of serving. However, somewhere in the race, that can turn into wanting to be served.
It’s easy to focus in a hundred yard dash. It’s a lot harder when the Christian life is a marathon.
Let’s rethink that race image.
Perhaps it’s not a race where you’re running against others, but with them. The goal isn’t winning but finishing. Like a flock of flying-V geese: sometimes you’re in the lead, sometimes another is, but you’re all going to the same destination, together.
In such a race, the farther you go, the more you enjoy a deeper life than that of the wading pool of modern culture. Authentic relationships. A sense of purpose. Heaven’s treasure that’s translated as patience, grace, joy, hope.
Maybe it is all right to look around you as you’re running. Maybe the passion and dedication of your fellow runners can refocus your vision ahead.
Throughout my ministry I’ve been inspired by the people I had been leading. What they didn’t know was that they were also leading me. Their dedication and passion increased mine. Teaching. Advocating. Serving. Their selflessness helped me be more selfless. They fueled me just as the needle was pinging to “E.”
I love it when they’ve led and inspired. And I hope they’ve gotten similar encouragement from me when I’ve been out in front.
Instead of “lead, follow, or get out of the way,” it should be “lead, follow, but finish, regardless.”
With a little help from our friends, we’ll keep each other focused.
And we will finish the race.