Run, Don't Walk, in This Race

I used to be a runner. Well, not really. More like a lumberer actually. In previous decades of my adult life I did jog for exercise. Hard to believe, but I actually competed in a 5K once, many moons ago. I took second place in the Faster Pastor division there in Winter Park. Of course, I think only two of us entered. I still have a picture of me outrunning a teenage girl at the finish line. Nothing seemed more mortifying to me than to have that girl beat me to the end of that race. I nearly had a heart attack right on the spot.

Now I walk for exercise. Far more dignified for a sixty year old with aging knees and too little time for working out. I like it better. Besides, Nancy doesn’t care to race. We just talk about our day and enjoy covering our four-street neighborhood.

However, if I read my New Testament right, and I hope I do, there is one place among others in which I must always be willing to run the race. And that is in making peace within the body of Christ, my church family. Hebrews 12:14 says this: Strive for peace with everyone. The Greek reads like this: Peace strive with all. The object comes before the verb (an imperative or command) for emphasis.

So where does this all fit in with the notion of running? It has to do with the particular word the writer uses for the English strive. It’s the word “dioko” which means to pursue, seek after, or to aspire to something. A literal cognate of the verb includes the word picture of running fast towards some goal or object. The Greek translation of the Old Testament uses the word in Isaiah 5:11.

Woe to those who rise early in the morning,
that they may run after strong drink,
who tarry late into the evening
as wine inflames them!
See those words “run after.” That’s how the ESV translates the same Greek word in Heb. 12:14 translated “strive.” The imagery speaks volumes. In the body of Christ the gospel of Christ will compel the follower of Christ to make haste (every eager effort as another version puts it) to pursue the peace of Christ with the people of Christ. And please note, we cannot afford to be selective. You can’t determine that some believers warrant your vigorous pursuit of peace while others don’t. The exhortation pertains to all. Strive for peace with everyone.
Do you find yourself at odds with someone in the body of Christ? Be careful now. You might be tempted to excuse yourself on the basis of what that person has or hasn’t done in the pursuit of peace. What about you? In your honest evaluation of your efforts to close the gap and build a bridge of peace between you and that person have you run like the wind in pursuit of reconciliation with the same zeal you might run to a gourmet meal or a vacation in Idaho?
If not, it’s time to put on your peacemaking sneakers and go for a run in the race for unity and harmony by getting back into fellowship with your estranged brother or sister. The One who ran to the cross for you and me to make reconciliation between us and a holy God would want it that way.
Let us strive for peace within the body at OGC.

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