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Sep 25

Running the Race

A few weeks ago, I participated in the 10 km Bridge to Brisbane run. After running this race, it made me reflect on how similar living the Christian life is to running a race. It is akin to running a marathon rather than a sprint. We have to be consistent each and every single moment of the way in order to finish strong. So what are some of the things we can do to ensure that we finish strong?

1. Throwing off everything that hinders

In Hebrews 12:1, Paul says that we are to “…throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles…”. Despite the freezing weather at 6:30am, there were many competitors in the Bridge to Brisbane run who threw their jumpers and jackets into the charity bins before the race as they knew it was going to slow them down during the race. Similarly, we are to throw off anything that could hinder us during our spiritual race and make us less effective as Christians. When we think of sin, some of the more obvious ones come to mind like murder and adultery but more often than not, it is the subtle ones such as unforgiveness and bitterness which if left unconfessed hinder our walk with God. Sometimes, the things that hinder us may not be things which are sinful in themselves. They may be things that consume so much of our time that they prevent us from spending time with God (e.g. too much time spent in front of the television or computer). Of course, there is nothing wrong with these activities in themselves but if they are causing us to skip church, read the bible or spending time in prayer then they could be considered a hindrance to our spiritual life. Even “good things” may be a hindrance if it is not God’s will. We can even become so carried away with things around church that we miss the forest for the trees. If any of these things cause us to less effective we should be throwing them off.

2. Food and water

In order to run well, runners need to ensure they take in enough carbohydrates before the run and enough water during the race. In our spiritual race, we too need to ensure that we take in proper food and water. Jesus reminds us in the gospel of John that He is the Living Water (John 4:14), the Bread of Life (John 6:35) and that we must remain in Him if we want to be fruitful (John 6:35).

3. Being prepared, being disciplined

In order to be able to run the race, one needs to be prepared. As it was a 10 km race, it would not make sense to train for a 5 km race. Jesus talks about counting the costs in Luke 14:28. This may involve giving up other things in our life, material or otherwise. Spiritual discipline is the key to running the race. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:27 that in running the spiritual race, he disciplines his body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Spiritual discipline requires that spending time with God on a daily basis, reading his Word, being obedient and submitting to God. If we do not train on a regular basis then when the trials come then we are likely to be caught out. There was a very steep hill up the Inner City Bypass during the last two kilometres of the race which caught many people by surprise. Many people who had not prepared for this, started walking and even worse were almost throwing up!

4. Training with others

In order to be able to run the race, one also can train with others. I sometimes trained with friends who shared the same passion at the gym. Ecclesiastes 4:12 reminds us that “though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”. It is easy to give up if we are alone by ourselves. In our spiritual race, we need to “train” together with our fellow brothers and sisters at church, in our youth or cell groups in order to encourage each other in our spiritual walk. If we go it alone, we may not be able to see our shortcomings. Galatians 6:1 tell us that “if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.”.

In conclusion, I am glad that I had the opportunity to participate in this year’s Bridge to Brisbane run. I am proud to be able to finish this race. However, I did not receive any prize as they were only awarded to the runners who qualified in the top ten. We are reminded of the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7-8 that in our race as Christians, we will all receive the prize if we finish the race and if like Paul, we can say “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”.

-Andrew Tan