I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8 ESV
For the entire ten years we lived in a rural Pennsylvania community we were considered the “New People”. I felt better when I learned that there were other “New People” just up the road from us. They were from New Jersey and had lived there since the 1950’s!
In a more serious light the hysteria and anger over “New People” (Mexicans, Arabs, Muslims, Asians) has culminated in the most recent massacre in New Zealand. How we as Christians to respond must be linked to how Jesus responded to hatred and prejudice. Jesus loved the immigrant, the stranger and amazingly so even His enemies. Jesus was not angry with Samaritans who had come from another place and worshipped differently than Jews. Jesus did not protest about the brutal Roman rule or even agitate for the removal of Herod, who had murdered his cousin John the Baptist. Maybe Jesus was accepting of the “New People” because he knew what being rejected felt like.
He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. John 1:10-11 NKJV
Change can be difficult and unsettling, especially if we feel we are threatened by those new and different circumstances. But no matter what situation we find ourselves in the only true place of peace and acceptance is not in being surrounded by “Our People”. Real peace comes as a result of being adopted into God’s family by the blood of Jesus Christ.
I was thinking how last Wednesday a friends of ours; who is one of those, “New People” became a U.S. citizen. He and His family eat different food, speak a different language and has a different culture. But today Raj and I both have exactly the same rights, responsibilities and privileges. In the same way, when Jesus laid down His life on the cross to pay for our sins, we gained the privilege of citizenzenship and includsion in the community of God. Yes as His children, we may always be treated as the “New People”; but God calls us His own. How much more should we be ready to embrace whoever He has allowed to live just down the street in our town?
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Philippians 3:20 NKJV
Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
Recently I watched again the classic film, “Chariots of Fire”. This film which is about the 1924 Paris Olympics, focuses on the life of Eric Liddell. Eric had been raised in China as the son of missionaries and had as his goal a return to that field. But in the year of the Olympics, Eric comes home and speaks at various churches about living a life for God. He finds himself strangely caught up in his nation’s excitement in putting together a team for the games. At a pivotal moment in the film, Eric’s sister questions his running and his commitment to God’s service. I will always remember Eric’s reply when he said, ” God made me for China, but He also made me fast. When I run, I feel the pleasure of God”
For anyone to be a competitive runner the reality is that most of their running will be in training. So Eric wasn’t saying that, “When I win races, I feel the pleasure of God!’ In fact runners will often spend months in training, just to prepare for a single race. So if running, in and of itself generates no pleasure in the athlete’s life, then that training will become nothing more than a painful drudgery.
It is so vital when we are training our children, to remember to train them up in the way they should go with the goal in sight that God has made them for His pleasure. He has designed them to experience His special joy, not just in the triumphs of life but in the long months and years of training. When I see the look of innocent joy in our grandson’s face training to go up and down the stairs, my heart is blessed. His Daddy stands close by and watches.
“Go ahead Wyatt!” he urges in an excited voice. Then in an explosion of delight, Wyatt climbs as fast as he can up the steps.
When Wyatt gets older there will be other kinds of training. It is vital for us as parents to get a hold of that joy, because not every minute will seem joyful. Somewhere Eric’s parents in their training had passed on to him that sense of the “pleasure of God”. So when he faced his greatest challenge Eric had learned how to run the race to the end. I pray that as we stand by to watch our grandchildren grow, that we will cheer them on, not just in the race, but in the joy of training and rejoice with them as they too discover, “The pleasure of God” for them.