The Christian Race: A Sprint or Marathon?

The Christian Walk

The life of a Christian is described in the Bible as “walking in the light” (1 John 1:7, NASU), as a simple “walk” (Eph. 4:1), and a “race” whose finish line is found in heaven (1 Cor. 9:24, 2 Tim. 4:7). Using the “race” analogy, we can describe two different types of “runners”, beginning with the time of their conversion.

Different Converts

Some new converts are “sprinters”, full of enthusiasm and energy, but not taught about the commitment required in the Christian life. Some new converts are “marathon runners”, having the same enthusiasm, but also grounded in the reality that the Christian race will not be over in a month or a year, but only at the end of life. The way these two converts choose to “run” will affect how well they compete in the race. There are two important reasons why the “marathon runner” has a distinct advantage over the “sprinter.”

Saved energy

The “sprinter” expends all of their energy at the first, causing them to tire quickly over long distances. The excitement and energy at conversion are very positive things, but if not focused in study and spiritual growth will cause an eventual burnout. These “sprinters” end up falling by the side of the path, or left not moving at all, long before the race is finished. Helping these “sprinters” to become “marathon runners” requires teaching them the truth about life – it will not be perfect and rosy, and a commitment to Christ takes one’s whole life.

Shorter missteps

The “sprinter” travels so quickly that when they make a misstep and leave the path, they travel far from it. It is inevitable that all men and women will “miss the path” in life. We are not perfect creatures and fail. The problem for the “sprinter” is that when this failure eventually comes, it hits them much harder. Their energy and lack of spiritual maturity can cause them to give up on the race altogether instead of simply finding the path once more. There will be many missteps in life – the “marathon runner” knows this and takes care to always find the path once again.

The way these two converts choose to “run” is largely influenced by what they are taught at the time of conversion, and how much they are willing to learn afterward. Those who have been running this race for many years can offer insight in “running” a long race, and running it well. The greatest part of this race is that everyone who finishes is a winner – so there is no reason to “sprint”, but just to “run” well every day and reach the end.

comments powered by Disqus