Monday, January 05, 2009

Take the baton and run

The Apostle Paul frequently used athletic terminology to describe the Christian life. One of his favorite analogies involved running a race (1 Cor. 9:23-25 & Gal. 5:7). These analogies are so important because they clearly indicate that Christianity is not a passive existence. 

Last Friday, God painted me a picture of how we are called to advance His kingdom by running our leg of the relay race. Here's what it looked like:
Jesus came to this earth to bring salvation and to bring back the kingdom of God. He ran his leg of the relay race with grace and perfection. Jesus also clearly called His disciples to continue the race by advancing the kingdom. He said, "I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father." - John 14:12 

In other words, Jesus is saying that He has run His leg of the race and is handing off the baton to those who have faith in Him. He is telling us that we will be able to run the race like Him. However, too often we find ourselves staring at Jesus as he is holding out the baton for us. Instead of taking the baton and continuing the race and thus advancing the kingdom of God, we find ourselves standing still in amazement of how Jesus just completed His lap. After all, He healed people, He drove our demons, He walked on water, He raised the dead, He turned water into wine, and He lived a sinless life. There is no doubt that He ran a perfect race. But that doesn't change the fact that He is still standing there waiting for us to take the baton and continue the race. 

We are called to be runners. We are called to advance God's kingdom and Jesus has assured us that we can do the things He did and even more. What does that look like? Here are just a few things that Jesus told His disciples to do as He sent them out into the world:
"As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give." - Matthew 10:7-8
He also very clearly described what our leg of the race would look like in these passages:
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." - Matthew 28:18-20
"And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well." - Mark 16:17-18
It's time for us to take the baton and run! It is a good thing to be in awe of what Christ did while walking on this earth and running His leg of the kingdom race, but we are not supposed to simply look at the shiny baton, we are called to take it and RUN! Let's follow Christ and advance His kingdom.

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