We all remember the scene from the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, when the Brazilian marathon runner, Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima, was accosted by a priest with four miles to finish the race. He was leading the race, but because of that he got the bronze medal. What impressed everybody and made the whole Olympic Stadium stand up and cheer was Vanderlei’s attitude. When he entered the stadium he was happy and celebrating because he was able to finish the race.
When Paul wrote to Timothy he mentioned another thing that he was packing for Heaven: “… I have finished the race… 2Timothy 4:7.”He knew that he was about to die and he wanted to take this with him. He told Timothy that he was able to finish the race. The race is the course, the path, the purpose that every one of us has for our lives. For Paul, his race was connected with his ministry and the church. This is what he said to the elders of Ephesus church: “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me–the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. Acts 20:24.”
There are a few things that we should know about our race.
A – The Right Race
The first thing is that God has a course and race for each one of us. God has a purpose for you and me; our goal is to find it and race it. In the text above Paul told the elders that he was doing everything to complete the task the Lord Jesus had given him. In his case he was to share the gospel of God’s grace. Believe it or not, the proclamation of the Gospel is the most important race that we have. Lives will be changed forever because of that.
B – The Race with the Church
The second thing of which we should be aware is that we cannot do that by ourselves. There is no “Lone Ranger” in the Christian race. We need each other to fulfill our purpose and finish our race. Paul sought support and approval from the church for the race that God had for him. This is what he wrote: “I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain. Galatians 2:2.”
C – The Race for the Church
During Paul’s life and ministry he saw many people coming and going in the church. He was always concerned with them. Paul shared his preoccupation many times with those that stopped running the race. He was racing not only with the church but also for the church. He wanted to see the church racing with him. We see this preoccupation when he writes to the Galatians: “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? Galatians 5:7.”He also mentions this when he wrote to the Philippians: “…as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing. Philippians 2:16.”
As you can see God has a race for you and me, and that race is related to the proclamation of the Gospel. But that race also involves the whole church. No matter how many obstacles we had, are having or will have in our race, we just need to finish, and finish it well.
Have a blessed week,