Together We Take the High Road

Why are so many believers dropping out of the faith race?

This morning I awoke in my brother-n-law’s house to find the Tour de Spain on television. I’ve never liked watching those races because you cannot simply watch it. You experience it, and it transports you to a very uncomfortable place.

The first few seconds are dedicated to your brain telling you, you are watching a race. Next a light bulb realization – man is one with the machine. Then your legs begin to twitch. You can almost feel the cyclists’ quadriceps screaming. You sit further on the edge of your seat, and your tailbone sympathetically winces. The television camera zooms into the competitor’s faces for a close up, and your lips involuntarily purse and blow, draw in and exhale. The camera spans out to reveal the treacherous mountain road spiraling up ahead. Your eyes celebrate the splendor while your heart plummets over some ravine, because the incline is too steep. They can’t possibly make it. You see a spectator jump in close, and raise his fist to the sky as he cheers the cyclists onward. You instinctively know the crowds’ applause is what the riders need to hear in order to finish. The lap counter continues to test their limits, and yours, with only one point eight kilometers to go. You can’t take it anymore. One rider begins to weave towards the sidelines. You gasp, and close your eyes. Your hand reaches for the remote to change the channel, and find something less intense.

I don’t know how many times I’ve read Paul say “I’ve fought the good fight, I have finished the race” (2 Timothy 4:7), but today, watching the Tour de Spain – I got it. People are dropping out of the faith race because they’ve forgotten how incredibly hard the race is. Don’t misunderstand me please. There is joy in the race, but it certainly is not without sacrifice.

To say we believe is one thing, but to understand we must be one with our master, is another thing entirely. Jesus is our guide (the rider if you will), and we are the instruments in His hands. Together we take the high road.

A Christ follower enters the race with the understanding training is mandatory, training which parallels that of a professional athlete.

Teamwork is essential for success. No one is to go it alone. We are to run the race as one united mass or body. Not only does the team keep each other accountable, we build each other up, and cheer one another across the finish line, whether that line comes before or after death.

The rigorous regiments of professional athletes are difficult to fathom, especially if you are not one of them. The act of believing in and following Jesus Christ is a mystery, which can only be fully realized with the help of the Holy Spirit, and the truth He so wisely opens up to us through God’s Word, and yes, analogies through the Tour de Spain Cycling Race.

If you are a believer – you are in the race. The clock is ticking. The eternal count down has commenced. And although you might be tempted to change the channel – don’t. The reward is great.
“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 (Hebrews 12:1).”

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Our Preference or God’s Wisdom?

Ever since the beginning of time God has given us directions to help us connect the dots, crucial dots to keep us on the journey of faith so that we can finish well.

One of his directives is; “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”      (Hebrews 10:24,25).

It is interesting to note that these verses come under a heading in the chapter entitled; “A Call to Persevere in Faith”.  One of the meanings for the word ‘persevere’ found in http://www.dictionary.com is; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement, continue steadfastly.

We can connect the dot; body of believers, to the next dot; keeping the faith, and believing in His purpose for us, but far too often we allow the discouragement of life to separate us from people.  This is where we can veer off the path and may disconnect.  This is the place where the enemy waits.  Wander off alone, and we are an easy target for false everything!  We cannot persevere alone, “for every goal reached there is a friend in the wings”.

Many may argue that we can declare our faith and remain in obedience to Christ without a church body by practicing church at home, or we can find the Body within the fellowship of a small group Bible Study.  These practices enhance our collective gathering, but should not be relied on alone.  The danger is; our preference as opposed to God’s wisdom.  The very idea of practicing faith without the Body reveals our inability to trust that God knows best.  Our decision to make our own church can come from a place of arrogance, which uncovers an unwillingness to be accountable, first to Christ, secondly – to each other.  Please be very careful and test everything with what the Word of God says (1 Thessalonians 5:14 – 23).

By neglecting to gather together we disobey Christ, announce our distrust, insult the cross.  How do we learn to love one another if we are alone?  Further, defaulting to independent choice, and creating a family we are comfortable with is trusting in our own strength, and the danger of a clique or a prejudicial group may follow.

There have been some very discouraging events in my life lately.  I have found it difficult at times to want to go to church, because it means I may need to engage in conversation.  As I struggle with my own weaknesses I turn to God and ask him to put one foot in front of the other, that I might obey his commands.  I get up and go and join my family in Christ, and look for Christ in the crowd.  I get up and go and join my family in Christ and listen for His voice, and He never disappoints.  The times I have hurt the most and have chosen to participate in worship has revealed the meaning of ‘sacrificial praise’, and the mystery of Christ has become clearer.

The enemy may tell you that you don’t belong, that you’re not quite ready to be part of an elite social club.  This is a lie from Satan.  The body of Christ is not an elite social club, dig into God’s Word and find out what God says about the Body.

And have you ever considered; you might be the face that someone sees Christ in?  Do not stay away any longer.  Let us persevere together.

1 Timothy 4:16
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.