From Our Spiritual Leader
With all that is going on in the world today and here at home, terrorism, wars and rumors of wars , economic concerns, earthquakes and natural disaster , I often hear people commenting on the state of their lives and it is not always positive. Is this all there is to life? Why me? What’s the point? People are searching for answers and the key to understanding the meaning of their lives. I want to take a little time and share with you what the lord revealed to me when I was struggling with a sense of purpose in my own life.
“wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” Hebrews 12:1
What is this “race” we are to run? God tells us that we are in a spiritual race. At the end of that race there is a prize that awaits us. In an earthly race, runners all start at the same place. In our spiritual race no matter who we are, what we have or don’t have, or what we have done, we all start this race the same in god’s eyes. (Romans 10:12, 13) “for there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same lord overall is rich unto all that call upon him. Whosoever shall call upon the name of the lord shall be saved."
How do you win a race? You can’t just walk down from the spectator stands and claim the victory. You first have to enter the race. You have to qualify to be a participant. That’s god’s part, through grace the first lap is run for us. “for by grace are yea saved, through faith and not of yourselves, it is the gift of god”. (Ephesians 2:8) we are justified, redeemed through the blood of Christ, we need only accept it. (Romans 8:30).
In an earthly race each runner has their own lane set up for them. If they run outside their lane they risk being penalized or disqualified to receive the prize at the finish line. In our spiritual race, god has set a path for us –a plan for our lives and he expects us to follow it. The bible (psalm 37:23) says “the steps of a good man are ordered by the lord” (Isaiah 30:21). “and thine ears shall hear a word behind thee saying. This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right, and when ye turn to the left’. (“and if you leave god’s path’s and go astray you will hear a voice behind you say, no this is the way, walk here”
In an earthly race, runners sometimes stumble, even fall. They would normally be so overcome with emotion (anger, feelings of failure, no hope of finishing) that they would just give up. It is the rare runner who falls and gets up and gets back in the race. But that is exactly what god wants us to do in our spiritual race. That is the Christian experience. He knows that we are not perfect and that we will make mistakes, sometimes stumble, and even fall. But he has made provision for us when we do. It is to sincerely repent and get back up, get back on the path and back in the race. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. It is what separates hearers of the word from doers of the word.
God wants us to be with him in heaven for eternity. To redeem a people as his own from among the nations. But before we can do that, we have to learn while we are on earth how to be conformed into his image. To acquire the attributes of god’s character through overcoming adversity. This life is a temporary assignment. This life is the dress rehearsal. The dry run. Some will be content just to accept Christ and be in the race and little more. Not caring if they become mature in their faith, not able to stand when their faith is tested. Having only enough of Jesus in them to stay out of hell but not enough to live a victorious life.
Work out your own salvation in fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) this means to take what god has placed in us, use the gifts he has given us and cooperate with the holy spirit so that every aspect of our lives will come under the lordship Jesus Christ. The final lap, glorification is to overcome the weakness of the flesh “put on the new man after god which is created in righteousness” and “walk in love as Christ also hath loved us". Though we don’t all have the same plan, take the same path for our life, we all have the same purpose in life, to acquire the attributes of gods character, to be conformed in his image.
Mans part in god’s plan, to enter the race -justification, to endure the race-sanctification, to finish the race and claim the prize at the end-glorification. A man's greatest testimony is his virtuous life.
Rev Michael Hopwood