Friday, June 13, 2014


From Leona's forthcoming book

 The apostle Paul used “sports illustrated” to make an analogy of the Christian life as a race that we run. He admitted that even he had to be diligent and watchful of his own Christian faith and practice “...lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)
 Do you really mean that, Paul?

He didn't say unqualified since that would have described a runner before he was established as eligible and entitled to run. To become disqualified, one would have to already be running the race, but something would have happened to count him out of the running. The runner might have disqualified himself by some action against the rules despite having started well. Paul asked certain Christians in Galatia, “You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?” (5:7)

It is possible to begin a race well but not finish well according to the writer of the book of Hebrews. And Paul warned the Corinthians, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” If it could happen to Saint Paul, it could certainly happen to anyone—it could happen to me in the summit season of my life even in the final sprint for the Finish Line or as the long marathon race is winding down. I could still be a dropout regardless of my past faithfulness in the service of the Lord or in my long walk with Him. A sobering thought. 

The Christian life is not like the automatic moving walkway in modern airports. We don't simply step into the Christian life and passively wait until it brings us to heaven at the end. The Scriptures clearly teach that we don't work for our salvation, it is by God's grace, but we are told we must “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12)We are in a lifelong process of being transformed into the image of our Lord Jesus Christ.

After we are “in Christ,” God doesn't take away our free will. When Saint Paul wrote his letters to the Colossians and to Philemon, he referred to Demas as his "fellow-laborer." By the time he wrote 2 Timothy, the picture had changed. “Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed....” It takes our cooperation with God and the help of the Holy Spirit to endure faithfully and persevere in the Christian race for a lifetime. We must press on toward developing a holy and fruitful life, mature Christian character, and keep fervently serving others all the days of our lives.

In our summit years we may try to excuse ourselves because, after all, we are weary now, and we've paid our dues by living a faithful Christian life. We've been there and done that for the Lord, and we may think we now deserve to sit on a bench in the park and watch other people do their part. God understands our human frame and our weakness. He may lovingly permit us to slow our pace somewhat, take more exit ramps for rest stops, and He generously adjusts His expectations for us--but keeps us in the race.

Until then, in the Scriptures we are warned to take heed, be careful, be on your guard, don't be sluggish, lose heart, or be weary in well-doing. We are not to passively fade out, become dull of hearing, slack in our service, negligent in worship, carried away by self-serving or trivial pursuits, fall away, or diminish in our zeal for the truth. God doesn't give us permission to drift, flag in our zeal, slide backward, or otherwise disqualify ourselves because of our calendar age. Jesus expects us in every season of our lives not to “lose our first love” for Him.
God hasn't taken us out of His race because of how many birthdays we've accumulated. Not until we break the tape at the Finish Line and hear His joyful welcome, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

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