If there is one term in today’s upside-down culture that pushes the button that brings division in America, it is the word “race.” But concerning the life of the Christian, that is a word that should trip movement diametrically opposite of division in the spiritual minds of those who claim Christ as Lord.
I’m referring, of course, not to the colors of the skin of humanity, but to the force with which the believer runs his or her course that is assigned by God beginning with the believer’s new birth. Running the race set before us in the right way never brings division, but oneness in the most critical matter in God’s holy eyes.
The race is that of believers in Christ following the course set for each of us individually. But the collective race is for the high calling of our Lord Jesus Christ. That call unifies the Body of Christ. It does not divide one from another in the family of God.
What is that calling? It is found in the Great Commission, the commandment with which the Lord left the apostles who stood gawking upward as He ascended (Acts 1: 9-10).
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matt 28: 19-20)
While obeying this one commandment—the Great Commission—is a critical collective effort that includes every believer of the Church Age (Age of Grace), obeying Christ’s last words (what He said before He ascended) is just as critical to each person who follows Jesus. How we run this race throughout our lives determines our eternal future. We are running it at this very moment. We—you and I—have been in this race since the moment we were born into the family of God.
And no matter our station in life in our jobs, health, society, wealth, class, or any other, we each have a certain course God set for us at our new birth. We are, individually, to run our race with all that is within us, as we let the Lord lead (Proverbs 3:5–6).
The words that frame this race we’re in were indelibly stamped into my spirit on that Good Friday, April 22, 2011—the clinical death I experienced three times within forty-five minutes, according to hospital records. The scriptural application has been with me every day since.
“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, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1–2).
Those who have read of that experience know of my report of the race I perceived I was a part of, surrounded by young, beautiful, heavenly beings with their arms raised in victory. We were running, I’ve been told in my spiritual understanding, to serve as, in part at least, encouragement to finish this earthly, spiritual race in which we as believers are presently participants. That’s why I continue to share the matters involved with my fellow believers. I am convicted I must.
We’re not running this sometimes very difficult course in vain. Paul said further:
“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (1 Corinthians 9:24–27)
As we observe the prophetic stage-setting that is literally bursting from all our news reports, our eyes should be affixed on Heaven’s finish line. We are already victors through our Savior and Lord and His finished race on the cross at Calvary two millennia ago. All we have to do is carry out His Great Commission collectively and, particularly, individually.
The great apostle, as he faced the moment of his execution, said further:
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7–8)
Our Lord could appear at any moment, or we could at any moment appear before Him through the portal of death (a passage into that glorious dimension I look back on as nothing to fear as a Christian.)
So it is a critical race you and I are in at this very moment, and it’s not a “theory,” as the nonbelieving world sadly views Bible truth to be. We want, when our race is finished on this earth, to hear the Lord Jesus Christ say, as I’m sure He must have said to the Apostle Paul the moment Paul had his physical life ended by a Roman sword: “Well done, good, faithful, servant. Enter into your eternal rest as my joint heir.”
But you will never hear those words from the Savior who died to take away your sin that separates you from God and Heaven if you don’t accept Christ’s grace gift of salvation. Here, yet again, is how you can join and finish the critical race toward the high calling of Christ.
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9–10)