Thursday, July 12, 2012

'Us' means 'You'

Therefore . . . let us run with endurance the race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1)

Spiritual disciplines are not elitist. Take a moment and read that sentence one more time.

There’s a chance that deep down you don’t believe that statement. Somehow you bought into the falsehood that ‘normal’ or ‘typical’ Christians don’t really have time to train when it comes to faith. Only the ‘good’ Christians get up in the morning to pray or read scripture; only the most ‘advanced’ among us ever fast or memorize parts of the Bible.

The weeks ahead will be of little value to you if you think that way.

So let me try one more time to be very clear about this: There are no ‘advanced’ Christians; there is nothing elitist or super-spiritual about the intentional practice of holy habits. Anyone can do this.

I make no claim to being a runner. I don’t especially enjoy running. But three or four times a week I do a four mile route in my neighborhood. I don’t run the entire route. I walk about half of it and when I run I feel like I plod along. I see others running who make want to go home and never run again. And then I see others plodding along, doing the best they can, and I’m reminded that comparisons are not helpful.

Anyone willing to put on a pair of shoes can run. And the spiritual disciplines are likewise for anyone who wants to grow in their faith. Simply put, you can do this.

The writer to the Hebrews spent the whole of chapter 11 rehearsing the names of those who had lived by faith. The roll of honor included Abraham and Moses and Enoch. These well known names are followed by a reference to the unnamed faithful “of whom the world was not worthy.”

And then at the beginning of chapter 12 we read a very significant word: “Therefore.” That is to say, since they lived by faith we can do the same thing. Given the example of these giants in the faith, let us run the same race. Don’t miss the word “us.” That includes you.

Don’t make excuses. Don’t make comparisons. Begin where you are today and start training. Be intentional about going deeper with God. Be purposeful about growing in your faith. This isn’t for the elites or for the advanced and uber-devout. This is for you. But it will require more than good intentions.

Who do you look to as exemplary in their life of faith? How will you begin to live the life they live?

Grant me grace, O God, to move beyond good intentions. Help me to take specific steps toward you and the life you’ve called me to live. Guard me from making comparisons that breed discouragement. Help me to draw inspiration from exemplary people of faith, both living and dead. I will run, even if slowly, doing all in reliance on your son Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.

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