A Race, Rules and Runners
Every race has rules and runners or it wouldn’t be a race. One must meet the qualifying standards for the Boston Marathon in order to run. Likewise, in order to enter the race for eternal life, the qualifying standard is a relationship with Jesus Christ. From the moment we believe in Jesus Christ, our foretaste of heaven, and receive Him into our life as Savior and Lord, we enter the race. Each day thereafter, we run this race with our eyes on the prize of our glorious Lord and our heavenly home. “Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules” (2 Tim. 2:5).
We choose to enter this race, and we can choose to exit. There are times when we may become exhausted, and to continue running seems overwhelmingly impossible. We may take a tumble along the way resulting in injury. We have a decision to make. Do we simply give up, quit, and forfeit our place, or do we refocus on the Prize because He’s worth it no matter what happens? “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).
Some people may leave one race and join another with the same qualifying standard. America has an abundance of churches who proclaim likeminded rules of the race. Experienced runners may grow tired of all the new runners entering the race requiring them to move over and adjust to new terrain. The race in their church has changed to attract and accommodate new runners thus altering the landscape. It becomes uncomfortable for veteran runners; they would rather run with people just like them than exert effort in welcoming new kids on the block. “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands” (Rev. 7:9).
I wonder how many runners know each other of the many thousands who run in the Boston Marathon every year. Every runner is different from another, but they all have the same goal: finish the race. Those runners did not make the rules for the race, but they’re willing to abide by the rules in order to win. Each runner who completes the race will finish at a different time, but they will finish. Why can’t we just be thrilled with all those who enter the race?
So what if the face of the American church is changing! People are being saved, finding hope, learning the Bible, raising their children in church, and entering the race for eternal life! So what if we have to move over and make room and lay down those things that we’ve done the same way forever! Let’s rejoice because names are being written in the Lamb’s Book of Life! “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents that over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent” (Luke 15:7).
Remember this: The most important thing is not how you start but how you finish the race. Finish strong, and help others as they enter the race to finish strong as well. Everyone who finishes God’s race wins. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize (1 Cor. 9:24).