Nov 12, 2010 3
We’ve focused a lot this week on our personal struggles to run the race of discipleship—keeping our eyes on Jesus and giving everything we have to pursue him and his calling. However, there’s a lot more to this than our personal struggles.
Christians run their race in packs. Think of it like a cross-country race.
How we interact with our teammates says a lot about how we’re progressing as runners and whether we truly are becoming more like Christ, remaining on course, or straying into the pursuit of our own goals.
In fact, there’s a lot at stake when we interact with our fellow runners. We could play a crucial role in how fast they can progress, let alone whether they finish at all.
There’s a familiar phrase for doing something that prevents or inhibits others from running: stumbling block. It could be a careless word of judgment, a well-meaning but critical attempt at encouragement, or poor choices that lead others to imitate us.
The opposite of causing someone to stumble is helping someone run better.
When we meet someone with beliefs different than our own, whether Christian or not, are we helping this person move in the direction of God? Are we modeling what running a race toward God looks like?
Too many times I’ve been confrontational or given in to my desire to look smart or correct. Attacking a runner will not help him continue to race. An attack will only slow him down.
And so we have to think of ways we can both model good running for each other, while nudging our fellow runners toward God. When they ask us for help, we have an opportunity to share the good things God has done in us.
The more I think about encouraging fellow Christians to run toward God, the more I’m convinced that we must be gentle, encouraging, and redemptive to one another. This would rule out some of what passes for “Christian” content that’s online these days.
Attacks, challenges, arguments, open letters, angry comments, and the list goes on. These things don’t strike me as a good way to help someone run a better race toward God.
If I was running off the main trail and taking sloppy strides, I know that I’d prefer someone to run alongside me and to personally explain how to get back on track and to improve my form, rather than shouting from the road, in front of everyone around, that I’m a bad runner who is going to endanger other runners with my choices.
Are we worried about making ourselves look good and right and smart and holy sometimes?
Are we a little too jumpy about differences of theology rather than the practice of the basics?
I have plenty of my own issues to sort through, but don’t we all? We really don’t need anyone to dump on us as we try to follow Jesus today. The truth is that I need you, you need me, and we all need one another.
We’re running together in a pack toward Jesus.
When one of us stumbles, we pitch in and offer a shoulder.
When one of us strays from the trail, someone seeks that person out and guides her back to safety.
When one of us falters with discouragement or exhaustion, we trot by his side, hear him out, and share from our lows.
We’re in this race together. It’s hard, fulfilling, dangerous, and beautiful. And perhaps the most beautiful thing in the world is when we can let God use us to encourage or heal another person. That is when we truly fulfill our reason for being here.