Risk Running the Race

I am worn out.


Not from too busy of a summer. Not from chasing the dog around the block. But from watching the Olympics. Hasn’t it been an exciting two weeks? What these amazing athletes can do takes my breath away. The Olympics always remind me of 1 Corinthians 9, where the Apostle Paul says,


“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, let after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”


Do you catch Paul’s passion in this passage? He is not jogging or shadowboxing. He is not seeking to get across the line to get the prize. So what is Paul so passionate about? Sharing the gospel message with our neighbors.


Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and your neighbor as yourself.” We tend to be big on the first part of that verse, but weaker on the second half. According to research, the average Christian has no non-Christian friends after they have known the Lord for two years. We find ourselves looking for those who are like us; those with whom we can be comfortable. We too easily become a holy huddle.


So how did Paul run to obtain the prize? What did he do in order to win others to Christ? He abandoned his rights and he adopted a servant’s role. Read through chapter 9 of 1 Corinthians and you see all sorts of things Paul sacrificed for the sake of the gospel. He gave up the right to food and drink. He gave up the right to be married. He gave up the right to receive a salary. When Paul came to Corinth he was after Corinthians, not after Corinthian gold.


If you are going to mix it up with people and be a redemptive person you will have to sacrifice and recognize that loving your neighbor and sharing the gospel is a top priority. You will also have to adopt a servant’s heart. Paul says, “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.” Serving your neighbors is a huge testimony to God’s love.


Any way you look at it, Paul was willing to take a risk. His passion pushed him beyond his comfort zone. He sacrificed and he served. All for the sake of the gospel. Redemptive people are like Paul, they are risk-takers.


As the school year begins, I want to challenge you to take a risk. To push the envelope. To step outside your comfort zone. In this next school year of 2016-2017, commit to spending one meal (breakfast, lunch, supper) a month with someone who is far from God for the intentional purpose of building a relationship with them. Take a risk, not for me – but for Christ. And for your neighbors.