People are always on the go and most of us have a destination in mind for our lives; however, not everyone is traveling with God, towards God, and for God. The Christian life consists primarily of three intertwined dynamics:
- First and foremost, God calls us into relationship and partnership with him and his people (1 John 1:3–7): we live with God.
- Second, we are immersed into a process of being conformed into the image of Jesus (Rom 8:29) and running towards the goal line of one day standing fully in God’s presence (2 Cor 5:9–10; 1 John 4:16–18): we mature towards the image of Christ and journey towards God and one day living in heaven with him.
- Third, we are engaged by God’s goodness shining both into our life and through us to our neighbor (Matt 5:13–16): we live for God.
The above threefold cord constitutes what Paul metaphorically calls “the race” (1 Cor 9:24–27): a life’s journey with, towards, and for God. Those who run their race well, will hear from the LORD, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness” (Matt 25:23).
By answering the following ten questions—amplified by further queries—you can evaluate how well you’re running your race. For maximum benefit, prayerfully work through each point’s supporting scriptures. Only my first three points provide suggested reading on topic, a few good books among many others; if you’re interested in further reading, please let me know.
When pondering the below, we must remember that only Jesus ran a perfect race. No one excels in each of the below areas; all of us fall short, to some degree, in every one of these points. But we must ask ourselves, “Am I growing in grace? Maturing as I journey?” Further, our attitude towards others should not be, “Here’s my standard, shape up or ship out.” Contrastingly, God graciously desires to join whosoever in their journey, regardless of what shape they are in or how others value them ; he says, “Come, all you who are thirsty … buy wine and milk without money and without cost. … hear me that your soul may live. For the humble, there is both no condemnation in Christ and empowerment from my Spirit to run with passion, peace, and pleasure.”
1. Is my race worthy? Does my race involve a transformational relationship with God, a life that contends for the Faith and works for the benefit of people? Does who I am and what I do involve God’s goodness coming to others, whether as a parent, nurse, mechanic, farmer, pilot, or pastor? Or am I running the stereotypical “rat race”? That is, am I wrongly running after significance, money, influence, fame, a spouse, or a degree? Is God my portion, and do I value people over things whereby I allow the LORD to add these other things into my life as best fits my calling and God’s purposes? Do I have significant, long-lasting relationships in my life?
(Josh 5:13–15; Isa 26:8; Mic 6:1–8; Jonah 1:1–3; Psa 16:2; 63:1–5; Lam 3:24–25; Matt 7:21–23; Phil 2:1–10, 19–21; 3:7–16; Col 2:1–3; 1 Thess 2:19. For further reading see either F. Chan’s Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God; M. Horton’s Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; M. Perman’s What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms Our Work; D. Platt’s Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream; J. E. Veith’s God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life)
2. Who or what empowers me? Am I foremost motivated to keep rules, fulfill obligations, or maintain appearances? Or am I instead propelled forward by faith, vision, and an inner passion? As I run, are my eyes fixed on Jesus, and do I recognize him as the author and finisher of my race? Do I find value by comparing myself with others, making myself feel big by making others feel small? Does love compel me to action, and can my life be described as “faith expressing itself through love”? Do I foremost desire to please God or people?
(John 13:1–15; Mark 10:35–45; Rom 1:5; 7:5–6; 8:1–2; 9:15–16; 1 Cor 15:10; 2 Cor 5:14; 10:3–5; Gal 1:10; 2:20; 5:6; Phil 2:12–16; Col 1:28–29; Heb 12:2; 2 Peter 1:3–4; 1 John 2:15–17; cf. R. Foster’s Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth; A. Murray’s Abide in Christ; D. Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God; A. T. Willis’s MasterLife: Developing a Rich Personal Relationship with the Master)
3. At times, is my race difficult? Am I running away from God’s best for me? Settling lethargically for something easy? Or do I stretch for what is ahead and make decisions that have eternal consequences? Am I fighting the good fight of the faith, living in the world but not by the world’s standards? That is, am I living “against the world—for the world”? Am I of service to others or do I primarily care about what others can do for me? Do I live for God’s name, renown, and purposes, regardless of the immediate “downside” of such actions? Or does everything revolve around me: my life, my experience, my ministry, my sacrifice, my comfort, and my effort?
(Mark 10:35–45; Luke 12:13–21; John 13:1–17; 1 Tim 6:11–12. See also D. Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship; Caner & Pruitt’s The Costly Call: Modern Day Stories of Muslims Who Found Jesus; A. W. Tozer The Radical Cross: Living the Passion of Christ)
This series of posts should encourage you to rejoice in and fix your eyes on Champion Jesus: the best running coach, ever! You can run passionately, purposefully, and joyfully—in God’s strength and free from condemnation—to the finish line. My next post will take up questions four through seven.