Breaking The Tape

Eric Liddell wins the 400 meter dash at the 1924 Olympics in Paris. He then went on to serve 21 years as a missionary in China where he died as a Japanese prisoner. He reached the end of the race and received the prize.

“Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven.” – Philippians 3:12-14

I recently read a story about a political protester by the name of Jody Mason. He wanted to make a statement about war and the president’s policies. So he padlocked himself to the door of a building in Olympia, Washington, a building housing government offices and officials, a place where his committed voice of dissent would be heard. At least, that’s what might have happened if Mason had picked the right building.

Unfortunately, he chained himself to the Washington State Grange building instead of the U.S. Department of Energy building he’d targeted. The Grange is a nonprofit advocacy group that focuses on improving the lives of citizens who live in rural areas. Mason had been chained to the door for 18 hours before Grange staff members told him he had the wrong address. Well, you’ve got to give him credit, he was certainly committed to his cause!

As Christians we have a cause that requires a commitment that is greater than being chained to a building. We start with what Jesus called the greatest commandment:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).

I believe that means that every fiber of our being, every facet of our lives must be committed to loving and serving God. This requires that we hold nothing back from Him because He has held nothing back from us. It’s called “grace upon grace” (John 1:16).

The apostle Paul describes our life in Christ as a race that first of all takes our willingness to enter, then a determination by us to run it and finally our commitment to finish it. But what does it take to complete such a race when everything around us is trying to get us to quit running and distract us from our commitment to Jesus by taking our eyes off the finish line? The apostle Paul helps us here by giving these three solid instructions in his letter to the church at Philippi:

First, he tells us to forget the past. There’s not one thing we can do to change anything that we’ve ever done or correct any mistake we’ve ever made. Yes, we can learn from our bad choices, we can ask forgiveness for those we offended, and we can vow never to repeat them but what’s done is done. That’s what the message of Christ’s forgiveness is all about. With the pardon of our sins and the accompanying guilt that came with our transgressions, we now have the freedom and power to move ahead:

“There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2).

Second, we are encouraged to look forward to the future because our sins have been wiped away by what Jesus did on the Cross for us. We can look forward to tomorrow, not with dread but with great joy. We have been set free as Paul reminds the church at Ephesus:

“He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins” (Ephesians 1:7).

Third, we need to keep running the race because it’s not over until we break the tape at the finish line. Then we can say along with the apostle Paul,

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful” (2 Timothy 4:7).

So don’t look over your shoulder saints. Just keep your eyes on the finish line.

As we run in this race,
As our best effort we bring,
We are spurred on by the fact,
That we must win for the King. – Branon*

Please send me your comments. Maranatha!

*Dave Branon, Our Daily Bread, January 2010

To help us to walk closer with God and to know Him better

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