I recently read that after winning the National Championship in football a coach later remarked that: “Building takes passion and energy. Maintenance is awful. It’s nothing but fatigue. Once you reach the top, maintaining that beast is awful.” A commentator described this coach as: “a man running for a finish line that doesn’t exist.”
Sometimes I feel that our church experience has to be this way. Or even our faith has to always be as exciting as when we first believed. It is not.
Our walk with Jesus is not one “championship” after another. Like Eugene Peterson has captured in the title of his book, it is a “long obedience in the same direction”. He writes that: “One aspect of the world that I have been able to identify as harmful to Christians is the assumption that anything worthwhile can be acquired at once.” And: “There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness.”
Peterson identifies our lives not as tourists, but rather as disciples and pilgrims. We are disciples of our master Jesus, and pilgrims through this world heading towards “our Father’s house.”
It is helpful to remember Thomas asking Jesus in John 14: 5-7, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” And Jesus answers: “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Let’s remain connected to the vine, Jesus (Jn 15:5). Let’s focus on Jesus and get to know him keeping the long-range view in mind. Yes we are running for a finish line, and the good new for us it exists! And we have Jesus as our coach, and guide, who cheers us on and encourages us for the journey. We also have each other, teammates on this journey toward being more like Christ.