“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…” Romans 12:1
“Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” 1 Thess. 5:11
My Dad used to run races, including marathons. He didn’t race to win. He raced to finish. Despite how athletic he was, and what a great runner he was, he was too busy in his successful medical practice to take the time to train to win the races. Bu he ran them just the same, and what a thrill it was to watch him – and so many others – cross that finish line. Particularly when it came to the New York City Marathon. I can only imagine how helpful it must have been for him, and the other runners, to hear the cheers and cries, love and joy, to see the signs held up, and to watch the smiling excited faces of all who lined the race course to encourage the runners as they persevered through the grueling race set before them.
Followers of Christ are in a race, per the Bible. Not a quick one. A long, drawn out one. One that involves training, endurance, perseverance, and trials along the way, not to mention the joy of being in Christ’s fellowship and learning to follow Him and drawing ever closer to Him as God by His Spirit makes us increasingly more like Christ. It’s a long race, and a tough one, even grueling at times, given how we’re called to turn away from the world’s ways and to lay down our lives, deny our flesh, and live according to God’s ways instead as the Bible teaches us. We must die to self, learning to live for Christ. Yes indeed, it can be grueling at times! Like the marathon runner, we set our eyes on the finish line of spending forever with God through faith in Christ, and, like the marathon runner, there are times we wonder how we’ll make it, how we’ll press on.
How exceedingly helpful it can be to have fellow Christ followers cheering us on, praying for and encouraging us, ministering to us, helping us to follow Jesus, training us, as we learn to train others, loving us and going the distance with us. Those cheering for us aren’t on the side of the course; they’re running with us! One day I walked around a school track and saw all the signs in colored chalk the kids had written to encourage each other. Let us remember, as Christ followers, to encourage one another as we all go the distance looking forward to eternity with God.
Do you have Christ followers in your life who love you, pray for you, encourage you, and help you to understand the Bible and apply it to your life? Do you, in turn, take the love, time, and care to encourage other Christ followers in the same way?