Christian Education and Missions for All
May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. - 2 Peter 1:2
The Christian Race
One of the images the Bible uses to describe the Christian life is that of a race. This race, however, is not a competition with others. It is a marathon where the runner is competing with only their own past achievements and comparing only to Jesus Christ, the Originator and Perfecter of our faith.
Definition and Etymology of “Christian”
The word, ‘Christian’ (Greek: Χριστιανός, meaning the same as Latin: Christianos, derives from Christos or Christ, the Anointed One). In versions such as KJV, ESV, and ASV, it occurs only three times in the whole Bible, and only in the New Testament. (It is used more frequently in some later translations and up to 71 times in GWTN.) It was first used in Antioch.
These references suggest that the word, “Christian” was a generally known title in the New Testament period, though there were other expressions which Christians themselves used, and seemed to prefer, such as “believers,” “the brethren” or “brothers and sisters” and “the saints” or “God’s holy people”
1 Thessalonians 5:26 (KJV)
1 Thessalonians 5:26 (NLT)
Philippians 4:21 (ESV)
Philippians 4:21 (NLT)
Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles, was very familiar with the church. He noted that the name was first used in Syria, Antioch. Acts 11:26.
The name ‘Christian’ seemed to have been born out of persecution and mockery. Nevertheless, it is an appropriate term, meaning “belonging to Christ.”(NIV Study Bible 1995:1670). From the 2nd Century onwards, it moved from being a derogatory nickname to become the acceptable official name by which the followers of Christ identified themselves. (Wine, 1997: 183).
A Christian is, therefore, a disciple of Christ. The Christian believes in and has accepted Christ as his Saviour and Lord. Such an individual is committed to Christ’s service and is expected (by God, the church, and even the unbelieving observer) to reflect the character of Christ.
Definition of a Race
A race is a “competition between runners, horses, vehicles, etc. to see which is the fastest in covering a set course.” – Oxford Dictionaries.Com
The Christian Race
The Christian race is different from most circular races and sports in the sense that it is not a competition with someone or everyone. This idea of a race is found in Psalm 19:4-5 where the sun is described ‘…like a great athlete, eager to run the race.” (NLT)’. The word ‘race’ is also used in The King James Version but translated course in the New International Version and the New American Standard Bible. Now, a course is not primarily a competition but a steady, study programme that has a start and has to be completed. So, the idea of successful completion is the central trust of the Christian race. No wonder Jesus warns “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:13
Also, the Christian race is not engaged in merely for fun or pleasure. It is a matter of great consequence. While secular sports are forms of bodily exercise that profits a little, having only earthly, temporal or perishable rewards, the Christian race is a spiritual exercise that profits much, having both earthly and, primarily, eternal or imperishable rewards.
“Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important’ for it promises a reward in both this life and next.” 1 Timothy 4:8
We find three basic similarities between an earthly race and the Christian race:
- Both require preparation and have starting lines.
- Both have rules and require disciple.
- Both have finishing lines and rewards.
(To Be Continued)
Keep me true, Lord Jesus, keep me true (2x)
There’s a race that I must run
There’s a vic-to-ry to be won
Give me power
To be true.
Barker, K (ed) (1995) The NIV Study Bible Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House
Wine, W.E. (1997) Wine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words Nashville: Thomas Nelson
Oxford English Living Dictionaries accessed on 05 July 2017 at https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/race
If you would like more support in the Christian race, please let us know. We are prayerfully working for your eternal and total welfare. We would like to give you biblical support as the Lord enables us.