Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Continuing the Journey, Part 2

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified."
(I Corinthians 9:24-27)

Recently, there was a big story in the world of track and field. A runner admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs. She gave news conferences, and spoke words of remorse amidst shedding of tears. She later returned her Olympic medals. She will forever be seen as the "really good runner who cheated to win". A very sad story, to be sure.

However, in the Christian journey, or "race," if you will, there is no way to win if we "cheat". We must follow the rules set up by the Sponsor of the race. To do any less is to be disqualified.

In the story of Pilgrim's Progress, Christian sees many other travellers who try to make it to the Celestial City their own way. One by one, though, they somehow fall by the wayside. Their way may seem good in their own eyes, but they never make it to the goal. They do not receive the prize.

The joy for those (who continue this Christian journey) is that we have a fan club of sorts. The saints who have gone before are our "great cloud of witnesses," cheering us on as we endeavor to endure and journey on. And the greatest joy of all: at the "finish line" is our Lord.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."
(Hebrews 12:1-2)

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