In a few of his letters, the apostle Paul compared the Christian life to running a race. It is a metaphor we often hear in sermons and devotionals. The writer of the book of Hebrews probably made the clearest connection in Hebrews chapter 12. “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).
Yes, the Christian life can be compared to running a race. But here is a revelation you may not have thought about. YOU STARTED THIS RACE WITH THE FINISH LINE BEHIND YOU!
Yes, the finish line is behind you. The finish line was crossed by Jesus in your place at the cross. Look at what He has already accomplished in you when you believed the gospel.
You are holy, “So as those who have been chosen by God, holy and beloved” (Colossians 3:12).
You are blameless, “Yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach” (Colossians 1:22).
You are righteous, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Corinthians 5:21).
You are forgiven, “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us ALL our transgressions” (Colossians 2:13).
You are perfected, “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14).
You are pure, “And God made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:9).
Simply put, the work is finished. The cross worked to accomplish all that God promised in the arrangement of the new covenant.
So what race are we running now? You are running a race of rest. You are called to run from a place of rest. The same Hebrews author also wrote, “So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:9-11).
It may seem counterintuitive to have “diligent” and “rest” in the same sentence of instruction for us. But that is our race. To run to His rest. To be diligent to enter His rest. To run from a place of rest. Our rest is resting in the finished work of the cross; the finished work of Jesus.
Jesus proclaimed His accomplishment from the cross. “Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit” (John 19:30). We are the recipients of that work.
Yes, stay the course. Say with the apostle Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (II Timothy 4:7).
But remember in whose power you are running. It is the wind of the Holy Spirit, the wind of Christ in you, that carries you along in the race. And it empowers you to run the race from a place of trust, assurance, and rest.