By: Pastor Jarren Rogers
“Christianity without the living Christ is inevitably Christianity without discipleship, and Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I remember there was a time, back in college, when I decided it was time to get back in shape. That meant I needed to hit the gym, lift some weights, run some laps, and get to work. However, I quickly realized that I couldn’t do it alone. If I was going to stay committed, I needed someone who would train me and push me to the best of my ability.
My roommate at the time was a very athletic guy. He played sports in high school and hit the gym almost every day. So, I knew he was the perfect guy to help me out. Once we began training, while we may have been friends outside the gym, inside the gym I hated his guts. He would make me run more than I wanted to run, make me lift more than I wanted to lift, make me endure more than I wanted to endure. But every time we finished up in the gym, I was always thankful that he was there and that he pushed me to do the absolute best I could do.
I think that my friend was doing something like Paul commands us in Hebrews 10:24-25:
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Every time I read this verse a specific moment of my training comes to mind. My friend and I were out on the track and we were going to run two miles. Now, the most I had ever done all at once was one mile, I didn’t know if I could go two.
It was around the one-mile mark that I began to slow down. Doubt prodded at my mind. Fatigue slowed my limbs. I was trailing my buddy by a dozen steps as he jogged on without showing any signs of weariness.
But, suddenly, after looking back and seeing that I was growing discouraged, my friends stopped and allowed me to get ahead of him. He then jogged behind me with his arm outstretched pushing me forward.
Every time I would slow down, he would give me just a small nudge, and say, “Keep going”. When I was convinced I couldn’t run any longer, I felt his hand push my back, “You got this.” When I was ready to give up, another push, “Almost there.”
Nudge by nudge. Push by push. Encouragement by encouragement, we finally finished the race.
I think that we live with a lot of people who feel like me at the one-mile mark. They’re slowing down. Doubt has entered their minds. They are ready to give up. But sometimes all it takes is a nudge from a loving friend. An encouraging word from a colleague. A push from a family member, to ensure that we finish the race.