The Race of Faith

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV)

There are few things I enjoy more than a good outdoor run — the wind beating in your face, the fresh air, and the exhilaration when clocking in a personal best. Running is also an activity I use to gather myself, think, and reflect on life issues. There’s a remarkable “quiet” when you’re alone out on the trail — nothing to hear except the rhythm of your heart and lungs taking in air.

Each year I run in the Lytle Law race for the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Dominion with hundreds of other avid runners. Some come out just for a good time and others to really compete. Whether you’re running for fun or quality time with loved ones and friends, or you really want to win, local races provide an opportunity for runners to come together around a common cause.

The Book of Hebrews compares the Christian life to a race. All are called to enter and run the race of faith yet with something far greater on the line. As a runner in the race of faith the Bible exhorts us to follow the example of our leader and King. 

The race of faith is always forward-looking, with our eyes set on Jesus. A strategy runners often use is to pace themselves off of an able runner in front of them. In a similar way, we ought to see Jesus as the pace-setter of our life. With our sights set on Him we can have confidence we will succeed. Victory in the race of faith is far greater than a trophy of bronze, silver, or gold. The prize for victory in the race of faith is an eternal reward:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (NIV)

When we run the race of faith with our eyes fixed on Jesus, we can have assurance that one day we will claim the prize that never fades away. When we make Him our common cause, we will experience His joy and with it the strength to finish well (Nehemiah 8:10). With our eyes set on Him, the author and perfecter of faith, we will begin already to taste victory in our day-to-day lives. Let us run the race with Christ as our leader, pace-setter, and King, and we can rest assured one day we will stand beside Him in the heavenly kingdom, in victory and glory, wearing the crown that lasts forever.

But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 (NLT)

*This piece was originally published on CBN.comI would like to thank Beth Patch, Senior Editor at the network, for the permission to feature the piece here for all of you.

Published by Paul J. Palma

Paul J. Palma is a professor of Christian history and theology at Regent University. He is the author of the books "Embracing Our Roots: Rediscovering the Value of Faith, Family, and Tradition," "Italian American Pentecostalism and the Struggle for Religious Identity" (Routledge Studies in Religion series), and the forthcoming "Grassroots Pentecostalism in Brazil and North America: Migrations, Missions, and Mobility" (Palgrave Macmillan). He is also a contributing writer for CBN.com. Paul enjoys spending quality time with his family on walks together, going to the beach, fishing, and work around the yard.

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