Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. The news of the senseless murder of 10 American medical missionaries kept surface in my mind as I drove to work. One of the missionaries has spent 30 years in Afghanistan serving the people in remote mountain region. They were motivated by the love of God, and were called to demonstrate the love of God in that country. Indeed, they pay the ultimate price of love – pour out their own lives for the people in Afghanistan. They followed the footstep of their Master with no regret. Do the people of Afghanistan deserve this kind of love? They don’t. Do we deserve this kind of love in Christ? We don’t. We thank God for these brothers and sisters who lived out a genuine Christian life, which is always costly and filled with compassion. This is the kind of core value that God wants to grow within us.
I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finished line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. . No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself (Corinthians 9:26-27). The marathon is one of the most strenuous athletic events in sport. The Boston Marathon attracts the best runners in the world. The winner is automatically placed among the great athletes of our time. In the spring of 1980, Rosie Ruiz was the first woman to cross the finish line. She had the laurel wreath placed on her head in a blaze of lights and cheering.
She was completely unknown in the world of running. An incredible feat! Her first race a victory in the prestigious Boston Marathon! Then someone noticed her legs—loose flesh, cellulite. Questions were asked. No one had seen her along the 26.2 mile course. The truth came out: she had jumped into the race during the last mile.
There was immediate and widespread interest in Rosie. Why would she do that when it was certain that she would be found out? Athletic performance cannot be faked. But she never admitted her fraud. She repeatedly said that she would run another marathon to validate her ability. Somehow she never did. People interviewed her, searching for a clue to her personality. One interviewer concluded lat she really believed that she had run the complete Boston Marathon and won. She was analyzed as a sociopath. She lied convincingly and naturally with no sense of conscience, no sense of reality in terms of right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable behavior. She appeared bright, normal and intelligent. But there was no moral sense to give coherence to her social actions.
In reading about Rosie I thought of all the people I know who want to get in on the finish but who cleverly arrange not to run the ace. They appear in church on Sunday wreathed in smiles, entering into the celebration, but there is no personal life that leads up to it or out from it. Occasionally they engage in spectacular acts of love and compassion in public. We are impressed, but surprised, for they were never known to do that before. Yet, you never know. Better give them the benefit of the doubt. Then it turns out to be a stunt: no personal involvement either precedes or follows the act. They are plausible and convincing. But in the end they do not run the race, believing through the tough times, praying through the lonely, angry, hurt hours. They have no sense for what is real in religion. The proper label for such a person is religiopath.
Jesus cautioned his followers to calculate the cost when they followed him after he had fed 5 thousands. We don’t just want the blessing of God without paying the price of obedience. You may fool all the people in your church with your religiosity, but you can never fool the Head of your church. You may enjoy the adoration of man, but you may not be able to stand the judgment of God. God knows the heart of all men. Let’s hold each other accountable to lead a godly and genuine Christian life, which is costly, compassionate and consistent.
Love with the risk of rejection,