“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus…” (Hebrews 12:1-2a)
“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” (1 Corinthians 9:24)
Paul, for sure in the case of the second, but as I believe he wrote Hebrews, too, speaks of the…competition we face throughout life. If you pick out this analogy as it applies to our Christian walk, in and around our brothers and sisters in Christ, you might think that it runs counter to the express paradigm of being a servant. How can one be a servant while running a race? If I want to “obtain” a “prize”, does this mean that I seek to pass any and everyone on my way there? No.
“And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured , all the members rejoice with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26)
So, this phrase, that always makes me think of homemade baked goods, actually comes to us from the realm of sports. Where things like foot races, etc. would start from the line in the sand or turf or wherever. I.e. from the beginning. And so, when thinking of and dealing with those who think and feel along the lines of the Lord, best to keep it simple and basic. To appreciate the beauties of each of our fellow believers as just that. Are they going to rub you the wrong way? Most likely. Are they going to try and knock you down as you run alongside? Perhaps. This is a race and this is life. We began at the beginning–we accepted Jesus. But then where are we going?
Toe the line/Tow the line
I used to think it was the latter, but upon further investigation realize now it’s the former. The two phrases (from scratch, toe the line) boil down to the same source, if similar meaning. While the definition of “toe the line” means to follow the rules and not step beyond the boundary, to my mind “tow the line” would indicate that we follow the rules and “pull together”. And in and around all of this is the pure kernel of an idea for Christian community as birthed by God, ratified by Jesus and also facilitated by the Holy Spirit. Because we’re all individuals. And my friends may not be your friends for any number of reasons, in spite of being children of the same God. This is a stark realization but upon realizing it, doesn’t make it any less true. My denomination (I don’t have one, really.) has a piece of the “truth” and hopefully walks in light of the flame God lit. And by God your denomination had better do the same. I don’t mean to be rude. I like what Paul says here: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 4:16)
He cannot say that unless he was willing to bear all the responsibilities befitting one who leads. Even, dare I say it, be willing to come in last.
“Unto me who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:8)