Sunday, June 21, 2015

tale of two runners.

The battle was won. The usurper slain. The victory must now be told to the king. The message had to be taken by a runner. There was two from whom to choose. One was keen but not chosen this time. The other man was commissioned and sent. However the first man wanted to run but had no message and pleaded to run also. It was granted but he had no news. The account is in 2 Samuel 18:19-32.

A similar situation exists today within the Church scene. There are many, apparently, in a race as far as the un-churched can see. Sad to say many of the runners have no message, no commission, no good-news to tell. They look good, have strong egos and get the attention of those looking for a messenger with a word from the Lord. What is delivered is vague and without authority. Those who wait for the Truth are disappointed. Fortunately, in the above account the man with the message arrived. I wonder if that is always true today. Counterfeits have also infiltrated the Christian Faith and are determined to confuse the people. It is also the aim of the false runners to put stumbling block in the path of the commissioned runners.

There are a number of strong and specific words used to describe the Christian life and ministry. Watchman Nee gave good insight into three of these in his book on Ephesians ‘Sit, Walk, Stand.’ These are our constant faith requirement for a fulfilled Christian lifestyle and relationships.  One he didn’t include, because Ephesians doesn’t highlight it so much, is ‘to run.’ As you look at the various contexts where ‘to run’ is used it has specific purposes and outcomes. Zacchaeus ran and climbed a tree, Philip ran up to the Ethiopian’s carriage, the women ran to tell the disciples that Jesus had risen. Paul used the concept ‘to run’ in 1 Corinthians 9:19-27 in reference to ministry.

God has at least one race (and more than likely more) in mind for each and everyone who claim Jesus as Lord and Saviour. What is the difference between our ‘walk and our call to run?’ A race has an end in sight. Whether it is a short sharp dash or a long distant marathon a finishing line is crossed. Paul urged those commissioned to run in a worthy manner before the gaze of onlookers so that when the message was delivered the runner would also be crowned. Runners, when that contest is over, remain in training for when the next race is to be run.

Lest some imagine that age, infirmity, family and other circumstances preclude them from being commissioned to run, think again. In fact your circumstances may well be the circuit or terrain the Lord needs covered. Was Paul out of the race when he was in prison? His record in Philippians and other prison letters reveal he was still ‘running.’ The testimony of many is how the Holy Spirit used their life’s situations to ‘run into the life’ of others with a message of hope, peace or warning.

When we receive our call-up to the starting line we may or may not know how long the race will be. To begin is easy but the energy levels can ebb as circumstances or opposition makes the going hard. Hebrews 12:2 tells us to ‘look away to Jesus’ as weariness and impatience nags us. To look away requires a conscious effort for we are easily hypnotised by what confronts us. How do we ‘look away to Jesus?’ By knowing His word, talking to Him as we run, and being supported by the encouragement of others. It is this ‘looking away to Jesus’ which enables us to ‘hit the proverbial wall’ and breakthrough to keep going even though the body, soul and spirit is weary. It is here we discover the truth of Isaiah 40:31: ‘they shall run and not be weary…’

As we mature in our Christian life and discipleship it becomes apparent it has many facets. Each of us face the unchanging and universal call of Ephesians to ‘Sit, Walk, Stand.’ This is the way to appreciate the fulfilment of our calling in our everyday experiences. Then there are our battles to fight and wrestling matches with issues and values and spiritual forces. Victory is ours as we contest them in the grace and wisdom of our Lord. God’s calling on our lives is also an entrance to the starting line of at least one race. That means we are to run with the message of the cross and its testimony within our life’s scene. Various are the crowns God has in mind for His people as revealed in the Scriptures. Runners have the promise of receiving at least one and maybe more, from fulfilling the race or races in which the Lord put them. How do we know if we are on the right track and carrying the good-news? By running according to the Lord’s coaching manual and faithful to His voice. The only other factor is, don’t faint or get distracted.


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