Thursday, October 3, 2013

"Freely Ye Have Received, Freely Give"

This was a first for me, to be on the giving end of the aid station of an ultra marathon rather than the receiving.  I met way more ultra runners than I normally do at a race, being that I always show up just in time for the race to start, chat only with the runners I happen to pass or be passed by during the race, and leave shortly after passing the finish line.  This time, I was there to help set up for the race, I was there to work an aid station during the race, and I was there to clean up a bit at the end of the race.  It was the Flatrock 50k/25k in Independence, Kansas; and it was quite a race! But I'm not writing this to give a race report.

In most gatherings I become a bit of an introvert, though I would not say that typically defines me.  This is especially true outside my "religious sphere" of family and friends.  I would definitely say that this was outside my "religious sphere!"  Extreme athletes are usually not the "religious" type.  They get rowdy and cuss, they are not usually concerned much, if any, about modesty; and most of them, I have observed, can't wait to finish their race with a cold beer.  Now, my conscience prevents me from associating much with this type.  I usually keep my distance and mind my own business unless I am ministering to them and trying to lead them to Christ.

But I learned something valuable last weekend that I feel I need to share with my "religious" friends and family.  You know that I am not going to tell you to drop you standards and convictions, and I am not!  You know that I am not going to compromise any of my beliefs either, so don't think that I am condoning foul mouths, drunkenness, immodesty, or riotous living--I'm not.  But this group of ultra runners taught me a valuable lesson that I believe the church needs today!

Because ultra runners love the sport, many volunteer their time to work on the course, help organize the race, give their time to set up for the race, man the aid stations.  Then they encourage the runners, take care of them, help them to the finish line... all in the name of ultra running.  But then there are those who contribute to the sport simply by paying their race fee, maybe buying some merchandise and giving the race director and the aid station workers a nice "thanks for being here."  That is all well and good, but I believe that I never understood ultra running the way I do now simply because I was never on the giving end.  And I believe I am talking about something far more important than ultra running.

I am afraid many Christians in our churches are guilty of this very thing.  They expect a lot out of the ministers.  They get upset if something doesn't go right.  They may, on occasion, give some of their money to the church, and they may even show up to most of the services.  But if you ask when is the last time they showed up to make some visits, help clean the church, volunteer their time at a youth outreach you're getting personal. 

Some may never understand the point I'm trying to make, but Jesus said it best when He said "...freely ye have received, freely give."  Christians won't you get involved in your church?

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