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The Race of Faith

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Several times in the New Testament, the Christian life is compared to an athletic event. In the letter to the Hebrews, the writer uses the image of a runner in a race:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith . . . (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV)


If the Christian life is anything like a race, it must be more of a marathon than a sprint! We are in it for the long haul. Jesus, the "author" or "beginner" of our faith, is the one who qualifies us for the race and brings us to the starting line.

Jesus not only starts us on our race of faith, but he runs right alongside us. He encourages us, refreshes and recharges us when we grow weary. He not only reminds us of the ultimate prize awaiting us, but gives us the joy of his companionship every step of the way.

The course will be filled with challenges and choices. Sometimes we will choose rightly. Sometimes we will not. Sometimes we will be right on course and know we are making progress in the race. At other times, we will find ourselves falling dismally behind. But remember . . . it is not a sprint, but a marathon. And even then, this race is not about speed, but about faithfulness and perseverance. Persevere!

As we run along together with Christ, we will encounter other runners, those who, by their living example, inspire us to press on. They may even stop to assist us when we fall behind. God has placed them at strategic points along the course to encourage us, to believe in us, and to let us know we have another God-given chance. And likewise, God will lead us to those who need our encouragement. Encourage!

We will also discover, to our amazement, another group of encouragers . . . a "great cloud of witnesses" lining the road. Those who have finished the race and passed on ahead of us are still giving witness to the fact that the race was indeed worth enduring. Endure!

There will be places along the course where we are tempted to focus on the distractions, and we may stumble and fall. Therefore, we are being coached to focus on the finish line . . . Jesus, the "perfecter" or "finisher" of our faith. As we focus on his face throughout the course, we will see him urging us on. Focus!

At times, we may feel as if our attempt at the race has been a devastating failure. But Christ, through the Holy Spirit, lets us know we are still in the race. He renews our hope in the here and now, while our feet are still hitting the pavement. Then he gives us a glimpse of the victory that awaits us when we cross the finish line!

Questions for Discussion:

1. What in your daily life causes you to grow weary and lose your focus in the "race of faith"?
2. Whom has God placed along the course of your life to encourage and believe in you?

3. What are some of the traits of those encouragers?

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