Reflections on Man CampOctober 18, 2017 Pastor's Pen
Running the Race of Life Together
The writer of Hebrews exhorts his readers,
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Heb 10:23-25).
In context, the “confession” he speaks of is that of drawing near to the throne of God, the throne of grace, based upon the Person and finished Work of our High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is “greater” than angels, greater than Moses, greater than the Old Covenant, greater than human priests, and His sacrifice (in sharp contrast to animal sacrifices) is greater in that it was “final” and “definitive” to atone for the sins of repentant sinners, such as you and me!
But there is something more. One of the wonderful “graces” that Christ gives us, when we come into union with Him, is “one another.” Think of the Christian life as a race, where Christ is the prize, waiting at the finish line. According to Hebrews 11 (“the hall of faith”) Christians from the past are the crowds, cheering you on, reminding you that “no temptation has overtaken you, but such as is common to man, and God is faithful…” Furthermore, in this race you are not alone. Every other Christian who is alive is running this race with you. Each of us, with strengths and beset with various weaknesses, must focus on Christ to the finish line, in order to run this race with endurance. Each of us running this race is called to “help” one another, “stimulating one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together…” In this race, none of us are self-sufficient or adequate. Our adequacy comes from the Lord Jesus and remarkably, according to His masterful design, one another.
I was reminded once again of my need for others at this year’s Man Camp. For, though the Lord has called me to be faithful, on a personal level, He has grafted me into a community of Christians, all in the same spiritual fight. And if I am to stand firm, I need to abide in Christ and stay connected to my fellow brothers. This goes for all Christians alike! God has not called us to isolation or to a sort of “monastic” lifestyle, but to loving fellowship with Him and with one another. This is not any man’s philosophy. It’s what the Bible calls us to! At Man Camp I interacted with men beset with some of the same weaknesses and struggles that I deal with. I was reminded again and again that I am no better than any other man, and that no man is ultimately “immune” to sin and struggles. We are all in this race together, and need one another. Spending time with other brothers, younger or older, revitalizes and energizes me to not lose heart but remain faithful to the Lord and to His people.
Whether it’s Man Camp or any other mechanism in the church, designed to facilitate life-on-life relationships leading to Christlikeness, how are you positioning yourself to “run the race to win?” Are you one of these proud Christians who, either consciously thinks you can do this on your own, or are simply not deliberately connected to the body of Christ. You are always making the excuse that you don’t have time or are too busy, all the while “making time” for things that may be of some value, but pale in comparison to active involvement in the lives of souls who will live forever. This could be a personal one-on-one relationship, a small group, or ministry service where you are getting to know other believers, learning from one another, and “encouraging” one another, “stimulating” one another to love and good deeds. When we either “rebelliously” reject active participation with God’s people (the church) or “passively” neglect it, we are selling ourselves short, and not taking advantage of one of the greatest “means” of encouragement and spiritual growth, other Christians.