Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Life is in the Blood - "It's in your DNA"

Press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of in [you].
- Philippians 3:12

Can you run 13 miles/hour? How about for 26 miles? The latest world record holder for the marathon does. With the pace getting faster and now ultra marathon running, that is, a race over 50 miles, being popularized, I wonder …

What allows some to press on to run the race as if to win (1 Corinthians ) and others to avoid the trail altogether (Romans ).

A common saying for athletes that excel is “It’s in their blood.” That means they’re hard wired to set their attention and focus on accomplishing greater and greater strength, character, and skill.

The same became true in my life as a disciple. When I truly came to understand how wide, how long, how high, and how deep Jesus’ love is for me (Ephesians -19), I became “hard wired” to run with ALL my might toward Him. I’m not a superior marathon runner/disciple. Rather, I just keep running, with all I am, toward the prize; not just to finish, but to win.

Consider how our DNA, found readily in the blood, represents how we are uniquely crafted. God made us in the secret place (Psalm 139:13-16). He knows every hair on our head (Matthew ). He knows us when we sit and when we rise (Psalm 139:1-4) He designed us to experience restlessness apart from Him (Psalm 84:2).

Be hopeful. The Bible reveals God’s character and His heart. Authenticity and determination appeal more to Him than the mileage and pace we attain (Parable of the Talents[1]). It’s an issue of the heart, mind, and soul (Matthew ). God does not want us to divide our focus between Him and other idols (Exodus 20:3). He’s a jealous God[2].

The Apostle Paul calls us to be this type of disciple: one who follows after Christ wholeheartedly. Do you see yourself in any of these reflections?  

  • WE are made for more (John 10:10a) …
Do you accept less?

  • WE have been given a purpose (Jeremiah 29:11) …
Do you wander?

  • WE are called to persevere and endure suffering (James 1:3-4) …
Do you prefer comfort and certainty?

  • WE are called to overcome evil (Luke ) …
Do you allow darkness to infiltrate and reign over you?

  • WE are called not only to believe in God but to believe God (Hebrews 11:6) …
Do you murmur and complain?

  • WE are called to revere God and serve Him only (Deut ) …
Do you prefer to love and serve yourself?

Sedentary, apathetic lives lead to muscles that “atrophy and arteries that clog.” Our bodies become wrought with disease and excess fat. As we watch ultra marathon runners press on, we realize our bodies are designed to handle an enormous load.

In your life as a disciple of Jesus, who do you more resemble: an athlete pressing on to win the prize or an apathetic by-stander? Yes, running is hard work. It takes a willingness to be made new. What are you a slave to that keeps you off the trail of discipleship?

  • Sports injury.
You encountered a poor/troubling experience with church goers. The spiritual leaders in your life did not show you how to know Christ for yourself apart from man made religion. You are disillusioned.
  • Comfort/sedentary lifestyle.
Your current life is self-satisfied because of your self-sufficiency. You hold many titles/championships; and yet, carry-on with obvious signs of harmful coping behaviors. You are disengaged.
  • Fear of not measuring up.
You can’t imagine putting on “a pair of running shoes” or studying the Bible. You have been away from any form of exercise/worship for too long. The side-effects of being distant from God are paralyzing.
  • Fear of pain/discomfort.
The idea that running causes discomfort disturbs you. You want the benefits running/being a disciple provides but are unwilling to undergo or allow the painful changes in your character to take place.
  • Fear of the unknown/change.
You have never done any kind of sport/Bible study, especially running. You do not want to try something you’ve never done before.
  • Apathy/It can wait.
You believe, “What does it really matter?” You are not worried or compelled by the fact Christ could return at any time.  

Be encouraged. Everyone has the ability to get out on the trail of discipleship at any point. You can embrace your maker and return to the way He originally designed you. Realize many of the first miles on the running trail or trail of discipleship will be cleansing and removing the years of toxins built-up in your system.

 How can you begin?

  1. Just do it. Come before God and ask Him to help you with your unbelief (Mark -24).
  2. Put one foot in front of the other. LOVE because God first loved you (1 John ).
  3. Do not fear. Trust God. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear (1 John 4:18).  
  4. Expect results. Believe in God and His Spirit will dwell in you. Allow the Spirit to be your strength (2 Corinthians ).
  5. Be empowered. We do not have a Spirit of FEAR but of power, love, and self-discipline - ask for what you need. (2Tim 1:7, James 1:5, Matt 7:7).

GO DEEPER ... be sure to read this week's FOOTNOTES

[1] Bob Deffinbaugh, Parable of the Talents, http://bible.org/seriespage/parable-talents-matthew-2514-30-luke-1912-28, (accessed August 29, 2011).
[2] Richard L. Strauss, A Jealous God, http://bible.org/seriespage/jealous-god, (accessed August 29, 2011).


Anonymous said...

So true! It's easy to get bogged down in our pursuit of Christ. And scary to realize how slow we are to recognize it sometimes.

The very last point (5) is especially interesting to me. My basic understanding is that a disciples life is powered by the Holy Spirit. Motivated by His love, and maintained and grown through spiritual discipline(s).

If we block or deny God at work in our lives through the Holy Spirit we loose power. When we forget Gods incredible love for us or refuse to reflect it with our life we loose our motivation. And if we don't practice spiritual disciplines/the marks of discipleship, we are effectivly sitting on the couch deteriorating.

Thank you for the challenging encouragement.