Have you ever been in a race? A few years ago I decided to take up running. After becoming a Mom of two beautiful girls and not having a lot of time to myself, I thought that this would be good for me physically, mentally and spiritually. A friend of mine thought it was a good idea as well. So we joined a “learn to run” class that met once a week. I have never been a fan of running, but as I was gradually able to run for a longer period of time, it felt really good. We started out running for just one minute and gradually increased the time with each week that passed. Going out running with my friend along the North Saskatchewan River and chatting about God working in our lives was fantastic. By the time we had made it to 20 minutes of continuous running, we were pretty proud of ourselves. We decided to register for a 5K race. So the training was on. Three times a week we ran, continuing to increase our distance.
The day of the race arrived. We had made it to 5 kilometers a few times by this point, and had even practiced the route. There were about 40 of us gathered at the starting line. All of a sudden the adrenaline kicked in and I was so nervous. My “going out for a run” had turned into a “race” and I felt so out of place. The starting gun went off and away we went. I started out a little fast, trying to keep up with the more experienced runners, but then settled into the pace that I was used to. My running buddy and I had set two goals: to run the whole race without walking and to finish somewhere in the middle. We knew we couldn’t win it but we wanted to be in the top 50%.
By the time the race was almost done I was getting really tired and just wanted to take a break. But my friend reminded me that we wanted to run the whole race. She began quoting Scriptures to encourage me, but I was still thinking that walking would be so easier for my poor aching body. Then the finish line came into sight, but walking still seemed like a good idea.
Another friend of mine who is the morning show host for the local radio station was the MC for the race that morning. As I was trying to convince myself that I could make it to the finish line, I heard over the loudspeaker, “Dustin, get ready, here comes your wife!” Now I was thinking that walking was not worth the public humiliation I would feel. So I pressed on and finished the race, running at 33 minutes, 20 seconds: 20th place.
My past journey from my sinful nature to now was so much like that race. You say a prayer of salvation and start off running, maybe a little too fast, and you have a hard time keeping up with the people who have a lot more experience than you do. Then you get into a pace that feels good for a while, but there always comes a point when you feel tired and just want to stop for a while. I am thankful that in both the race and in my walk with Christ that I strained to reach for what was in front of me. Public humiliation aside, the way we choose to live our lives is seen by everyone around us, whether we run, walk or fall in our Christian life.
What Example Are You Setting?
From what we find in the Bible of Paul’s race of life, he had every right to say, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
Do I have the right to say that? Do you? How would the people in your life describe you? - “I can tell that she is a follower of Jesus Christ by the example she is setting,” or do they say, “Look at the way she is acting! And she calls herself a Christian!”?
Quite often, I think, we as Christians are the worst examples of Jesus Christ and are turning people away from the truth because of the way we choose to live our lives. If you can remember the music group DC Talk the beginning of their song, “What if I Stumble,” you will hear this:
"The greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, but walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle, that is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable."
Just in case you don't understand, atheism is non-belief in the existence of God. So the greatest cause of unbelief in Jesus Christ by the world is the poor way so many of us as Christians choose to live our lives. I love this quote by G.K. Chesterton: “If there were no God, there would be no Atheists.” Something for you to think about.
One day you and I will stand before God and give account of our words, our actions and our motives (Eccles. 11:9; Mt. 12:36; Rom. 14:12). How am I going to answer God when He asks me what example I gave others as a representative of Jesus Christ?
We all have the ability to say, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ,” but first we have to live it. Only then are we living with integrity. Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.”
Take a look at yourself. What transformation have you seen in your life since accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior? Grab your journal and spend a few minutes writing about your journey.