“…..let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
On 4th October this year, Glasgow City Mission ran a fundraising event which we called “Heart for Glasgow”. Participants walked or ran 5K in one of nine parks in Glasgow or joined in a relay round the city. Since I can’t run any distance at all, I offered my services as steward, flag waver, or simply just a pair of hands as needed. So I found myself in the privileged position of following the participants around in the Glasgow City Mission van – there to help with anything that might come up. Fortunately, all was well, and there were no emergencies or unexpected incidents.
The other day, Jack Geddes, our fundraising manager, announced that those who took part raised the princely sum of £12,633.60. This is a fantastic result and we are deeply grateful to Billy Mitchell, who masterminded the event, and to everyone who participated.
As I was observing the event, I was reminded that in the New Testament there are several passages which speak of the Christian life in terms of running a race. Hebrews 12:1 speaks of throwing off everything that hinders us and running “the race marked out for us” while Philippians 3:14 speaks of “pressing on toward the goal to win the prize”. In 1 Corinthians 9:24, Paul speaks of training and running “to get a crown that will last forever.”
When we think of races and winning prizes we usually think of competitions. Athletes take part in the Olympic Games specifically with the hope of being the best, becoming the champion, and having a medal to show it. Now, it’s true that these verses speak of training and running in a race, but I don’t think these writers are speaking of a competition against other people. Rather they are speaking of being self-disciplined in order to be able to persevere as we run up hills and down into valleys, over difficult ground and in all weathers. If there is any competition in mind here at all, it is against ourselves – urging us to achieve our personal spiritual best.
The wonderful thing about 4th October was that everyone who took part did so at their own pace, in their own time. Some ran – doing back-to-back 5ks. Some walked, while others jogged. Each one did according to their ability, and in the way that was best for them. The result was a combined effort which brought in a wonderful amount for the City Mission’s funds. The verses in the New Testament which speak of running the race are inviting us to join in at our own pace as we are able. We are to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. This race is not about competition against others; it’s not about finding out who is the best Christian. It is about doing our very best for the Kingdom with our eyes fixed on Jesus, and running to finish the course.