I’ve recently returned to running after a very long break and I didn’t realize how much I missed the running community, which is known for being incredibly supportive and encouraging.
Yesterday, I was running along a trail and passed, what I presumed to be, a middle school cross country team who was training on the same trail. They were huddled together, about to start their run, when I went lumbering by them.
And “lumbering” is the right word. I have never been a graceful looking runner and, right now, I am really out of shape. But as I went by this group of very good runners, they didn’t laugh or smirk or give me that look that says, “What does this fool think he’s doing?!”
Instead, they cheered me, and their coach said, “Keep going, brother! You’re doing great!”
But that’s how runners are.
No matter what your level of fitness is or how new you may be to running, you will find nothing but support and encouragement from other runners.
That’s exactly how the church is called to function.
Instead of comparison, mocking, or disdain, those who are on the “Jesus path” should find support and encouragement because Christians are to be cheerleaders for anyone who is trying to follow the way of Christ.
In Ephesians 4, Paul tells the community of Christ to…
“Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (vv. 2-3).
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (vv. 31-32).
As Christians, we are connected to one another and we have a responsibility to help one another while, at the same time, creating an environment within the body of Christ where people of all backgrounds can find the support and encouragement they need to progress in the way of Christ.
So, let’s cheer each other on.
Let’s celebrate each other’s wins.
Let’s support each other in our spiritual walk.
Let’s encourage each other to keep running on the “Jesus path.”
Let’s speak words of kindness to each other that keep us going.
Let’s intentionally find others who we can help along their way.
After all, we are in a race.
So, let us “run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24).