If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away---Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Focus in Life: Philippians 3:7-16

*This lesson can also be found at: http://www.faithandliferesources.org/Curriculum/abs/abs100815.html

When I was in seminary I used to do a daily 4 mile run around a point that extended into the San Francisco Bay. I can’t even imagine doing that today! The road I ran twisted and turned around the outline of land jutting into the bay. I knew when I was near my goal of four miles when I came to a steep hill that I had to traverse in order to finish my run. It took a lot of will power, sweat, straining, and great exertion of physical energy to make it over the hill and on my way back to my apartment on the seminary campus. I had to focus on the goal of making it to the end of my run. There were no others I was racing against and no prize awaited me at the end of my run. With so much time spent in my head with constant study in seminary I had a larger goal beyond getting to the end of the 4 miles…. staying healthy.

Paul uses the metaphor of running a race to speak to the Philippian believers about a larger goal than bodily exercise or winning a physical race. He talks to them about a race to know and become more like Christ. He hopes to achieve his goal through his own calling to be an apostle to the Gentiles. Though he has not turned the final corner or faced his last steep hill, Paul strains toward that goal like a runner exerting all his energy to reach the end of a run.

We all runners in a race. We are not running against anyone as if to beat them to the end of the race. And we have not reached the end of the race. There are more twists and turns on the road ahead. We have not reached the final hill we must traverse to reach our goal. But, there is still time left to exert our energies, correct our course when we take a wrong turn, and keep our eyes on the road ahead before we reach the final goal of Christ-likeness. We are all runners in a race. And in this race a prize awaits us!

• How is living a life of faith like running a race?
• What exercises do you practice to stay spiritually healthy?
• What particular “track” has God called you to run? What is your calling?

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