Today, we will continue to look at another action we can take in our lives from Hebrews 12:1 to run our spiritual race well. In the end of our lives, all we will want to hear is “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” My desire is to be surrounded by people of faith that are running hard toward Jesus and to invite other runners to join along. As the body of Christ, we are all in this together, yet running individual races. Next week’s post will address the issue of running the race “marked out for us” in more detail. But, for today, the importance of community is our theme.
I was reading about marathon runners and how important running companions and cheerleaders are to finishing these grueling 26.2 mile races. The stress on mind and body is hard to push through without the support along the way. And while runners may know their family and friends are waiting at the finish line, encouragement between the start and finish lines is crucial to a runner to push through the pain in those hard miles. Future hope draws them to picture their victory, and the community of runners reminds them they are in the race, encouraging them to persevere…to see their hope become reality.
This is true of our spiritual race as well. As people of God, we are called to run the race of faith toward our full future inheritance(Eph. 1:14). Unlike a marathon, we don’t know the exact distance or time it will take to arrive at the finish line. We don’t have a route marked out on a map for all of us to run, but we do have a final destination. God gives us the directions to move forward in His likeness through obedience to His words. There is no way to foresee what the terrain, weather, and obstacles will be along the way from a human standpoint, but we have something better in the Holy Spirit. He helps us to run well if we give Him authority over our lives.
“And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1b
“Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.” I Thessalonians 5:14-15
Paul tells us to persevere together as sisters and brothers running alongside one other. While we run our own individual races, the destination and purpose of the race is the same…to arrive by faith in the presence of God. Why would we not want others to succeed at this as well? There is room for all of us in the Kingdom of God.
With that in mind, let’s consider 5 benefits to running with community that will improve our ability to run well.
In Community, ‘Iron Sharpens Iron’.
Proverbs 27:17 ” Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. “
We become like those we spend a great amount of time with. Find people who are running in the freedom of Christ and seeking to be transformed from the inside out by the holiness and goodness of Christ. Through partnership and commitment, we will be challenged to persevere through hard times.
Community pushes us to go farther than we imagined.
Running groups need pace setters. It is easy to not push yourself without a set stride. To reach long distance goals, a runner has to pace their steps. If they don’t, they will either burn out or fail to reach their full potential. As Christians, having community partners motivates and inspires us to go beyond our doubts and run faster and harder toward the prize. They also remind us that rest is necessary to run well.
Community provides safety.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
It’s always safer to run with a partner or group. Satan is prowling around seeking whom He may devour. Another set of eyes or two can help us from falling into danger. If we fall, we will have someone to pull us back up, tend to our wounds, and to set us back on the right path. Wouldn’t you also like to be that for someone else and be a true co-laborer for Christ?
We share in God’s grace together. Good company increases our joy.
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:3-8
Running together leads to greater joy and intimate relationships. It distracts us in a positive way from all the outside noises competing for our attention when we enjoy our company. There is a special love between brothers and sisters in Christ that strive together in unity. Once you experience it, you will understand how Paul longs to see his friends again and find refreshment in their presence. Especially when they are reflecting the image of God and encouraging our weary souls.
Community allows us to share information with one another.
Running together is a great time to share problems and work towards unity in all areas of life. We can work together to find solutions to the sin issues that entangle our lives, families, and communities. Partners also speak fresh ideas into our often stale routines and inspire us to further good works; offering practical living and running advice.
The Bible is filled with “one another” phrases. God wants us to be a fully functioning body which takes all of us working together to bring God the most glory and do the world the most good. Although the true Church isn’t always represented as intended due to our human natures, it should be our goal to work together to run toward Christ, our future prize. Just as running can involve sweat, sprained ankles, scrapes, and fatigue, so can the believer expect difficulties and trials on the run. This is why Paul tells us to do it together; community is a grace extended to us in so many ways. If you need someone, please reach out. Running well is possible when we run with each other’s good in mind!