I really like what Stone talked about in this post, The Rat Race of Faith and those who kind of perceive faith as a competition, as a rat race and may the best man win. There’s nothing wrong with having a competitive spirit, except perhaps in faith. I don’t think God is going to be handing out extra credit points for mowing down the so-called competition. In fact, if I came in first leaving a trail of collateral damage behind me, the God I know would probably point me to Matthew 20 and ask, “So, what part of ‘the last shall go first,’ did you not understand? “
I would be terribly offended too, to be sent back to the end of the line while some bum who didn’t work nearly as hard as I did got the medal, or the crown in this case. But see, that would be the whole problem right there, I would have won the race but missed the whole lesson of the race. I am saved because of who He is, not because of my own efforts.
Somewhat amusing, in Stone’s example, this paragraph is quoted, “Imagine a top runner in the Olympics and she knows she can outrun the rest of the competitors, so she stops along the way to get a coffee, and then watch a movie, then pick up a twenty pound sack of gold coins and carry them with her to the finish line.”
Amusing, because once again the God I know would see me coming across the finish line and say, “Hey, I sent you a perfectly good cup of coffee and a bag of gold and you ran right past my gifts in some kind of self righteous quest to prove your own virtue? What’s with that?” Then He’d send me back to go pick up those gifts with a bit more gratitude and appreciation.
The God I know is full of surprises. Just when I think I understand Him, He shows me just how little I really know. One thing I so appreciate about God, he tests us, but they aren’t the kind of tests that you pass or fail, they are the kind of tests you will just take over and over again until you do finally pass. Trust me, it can feel a bit like Groundhog day or being trapped in the same room in a video game, but He really will wait patiently until you finally get it right.
Like any good coach, Jesus Christ isn’t about pass or fail, He’s more about, it’s okay, I’ll just stay right here until we figure out how to get it done, together.
In the midst of this race, if I pass out or tear off a kneecap or something, or even if I get distracted chasing a cup of coffee, my Lord and Savior will pick me and carry me across that finish line. That’s who He is, and that’s who we’re called to be, too.
I think our extra credit points come much faster when we see the guy a 100 yards behind us puking his guts out, and we realize, “Hey, that guy’s got more heart and soul for this race than I do.”