Saturday, September 19, 2009

It's a Marathon

St Paul compares the phenomena of sports competition with the Christian life. "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain." (1Co 9:24) And again, "...and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.." (Heb 12:1) And we are, of course, admonished to "...earnestly contend for the faith.." (Jude :3) Contend?..Yes..that is, compete, fight, battle, contest, dispute....all these... synonyms for contending for the faith.

Should we not be going to battle against heterodox ideologies as opportunity arises? "Thy Kingdom come..." involves our activity. One of the most interesting and telling verses that I’ve read in my journey through the Bible this year is the verse in II Samuel 11:1. The NASB reads this way: "Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab....etc, etc." As I recall my wife and I both chuckled when we first read this verse. The spring...when kings go out to battle. Imagine that! This seemed to be an annual ritual. First battle, then defeat or victory... and then do it again next spring. The NBA..National Battling Association begins in April..each year. But this particular spring...King David stayed at Jerusalem..and sat this one out. What happened while his forces in the field were battling the enemies of Israel’s God? David fell into the deepest sin of his life. Not only committing adultery, but also fully complicit in the murder of Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah. The entire sad tale may be read in the 11th chapter and is summed up by the writer thusly: "..the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the Lord." (vs 27)

Therefore, it seems to me that we are most productive, whether in secular work, or contending for the faith, when we are in the heat of a battle. I have a friend who owns a grocery store and each year he must schedule vacations for all his employees. He once had a request from a particular employee for a continual 3-week vacation. He facetiously told the employee, "if we can do without you for 3-weeks..we don’t need you!" So it is in living out the faith that has been once delivered to us. There are no vacations, no time off, no breaks, no let up. In my denomination our Lord has provided ample opportunity to defend the orthodox doctrines of the Reformed Faith. As Christians we are, all our lives, being equipped, or perfected..for what?..for the work of the ministry. " and he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:.." (Eph 4:11-12) Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, we are in the ministry, a race as Paul calls it. "So..let us get in shape, get off the cheeseburgers and things that hinder our effectiveness and run our race with cheerful endurance as a marathon with an eye toward the finish line." (my paraphrase of Heb 12:1)

1 comment:

Jay said...

Dave you are so smart that I feel inferior to your knowledge of the bible and your understanding. However it did present some interesting thoughts for me in that the American Indians did similar things. In the spring they also went to war with their enemy's to settle wrongs and let young men come to maturity. This was a right of passage so the young men could marry and start families and increase the tribes size. How is that for a tie into the way it was done in biblical times.