1 Corinthians 9:24 “Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize.”
Last week, I shared with you that Beth has introduced me to running a 4-miler a few weeks ago. It was my first race, (I did finish) and I did receive a medal for finishing. It was interesting to draw some thoughts from that race as we were competing. I shared, that in order to finish the race, you had to begin the race.
And that, of the 15,000 people who started, not everyone finished. And some finished a lot sooner than others. When we finished, there were about 2,000 or so behind us — so that, while we didn’t finish first, we also didn’t finish last. (That was my fear … that everyone would be waiting for “ol Thad” to finish.)
I want to make another point about the race. I said, “In order to finish the race, you have to start the race.” This week, I’d like for you to give consideration to this: “When you are racing, you have to run your own race.” Read that again.
I like to play sports. At my age, I am not as good as I used to be. So I have scaled back on being engaged in aggressive sports (football, basketball, etc.) and I play golf.
OK … I try to play golf.
The guys I play golf with are younger than I am. And when they hit their drive, they are anywhere from 50 to 100 yards ahead of me when the ball comes to rest in the fairway. If I try to hammer my driver and really try to smack the ball, most times I fill find the ball way outside the fairway and way inside the woods. So, if I just walk up to the tee, use my regular swing and not try to jump out of my shoes when I hit the ball, I can land it safely in the fairway. I might be behind the others in my drive, but I have one heck of a second shot. And on most par threes, I can get on the green.
What I am saying is this, “I have to play my own game.”
In the race a few weeks ago, I had to run my own race. I had to keep my eyes focused on the finish line that was four miles ahead of me, and not worry about those who were passing me up and for those who might already be finished. I had to focus on running my own race.
How does that apply to our spiritual life? Quite easily. Not everyone is going to spend their eternity in Heaven. I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but that is the truth. There are going to be some really bad people in hell and there are going to be some really good people in hell, too. There are going to be some good people in Heaven and there are going to be some really bad people in Heaven too.
In the game of life, in which we are all running (we are alive and living our lives), we all have to “run our own race.” In other words, none of us are going to get into Heaven because of what our parents did or are doing. My dad was chairman of the Sunday School. My mom sang in the choir. They went to church most every Sunday because, in those days, it was expected. I took three years of Catechism and was a confirmed member of the church.
But in 1969 when I was involved in a head-on accident and was taken to the hospital with a concussion, if had died in that accident, I would have spent my eternity in hell. Why? Because no one goes to Heaven on the graces of what someone else has done. We are all going to stand on our own and give an account to God one of these days. And one of the questions He is going to ask us is, “What did you do with My Son, Jesus Christ?”
“Well … I believed in Him.” And God is going to reply, “You believed. Even the demons in hell believe.” Just because you “believe” in your mind that Jesus was a real person, or even God’s Son, or that He died on a cross, does not mean that you will spend your eternity in Heaven. Only by being “born again” (John 3:1-7) which is also referred to as “being saved” (Romans 10:9-13) or accepting Jesus Christ into your life and allowing Him to be your Savior. Your good works, church membership, being a good person, friend and neighbor are all good things, but only by being saved will be spend our eternity in Heaven.
So, run your own race. Read the Bible for yourself and trust Jesus as your Savior and you will finish well.
And that is Something to Think About for this week.
God bless you and we want to let you know the doors to our church are always open to you and to your family. We’d love to have you and your family come and worship with us. If you don’t have a home church, please check us out at 10:45 a.m. Dress casual.
Pastor Thad Gifford is the founding and lead pastor of the Crossroads Community Church, 62 E. Second St., London. He can be reached at 740-852-7800, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, www.3C-Church.org or visit the church’s Facebook page at Crossroadslondon.