Many of you know how much I like to ride my bicycle. If you were to look in my basement, you’d see at least six bicycles hanging on the wall. Actually, only two of the six are mine. I have one bicycle I use on the trail and one I ride on the road. The other bikes belong to my family. Cycling allows me the opportunity to ‘reboot’ my mind. It affords me the chance of releasing any pent-up aggravations I might be carrying from the stresses of life. One of the hardest things I’ve found in what I do is disconnecting myself from the hurt others experience. Cycling became that disconnect for me many years ago. I’ve read articles on how to improve my time as I ride. I’ve purchased special shoes, clothing, helmets, cyclometers and gloves to make the experience enjoyable. I’ve even scheduled rides that have spanned over the course of weeks at a time. But have I really plugged into what riding is all about? Years ago I rode to win races. I rode for bragging rights; to show others I could compete and win. Those days are long gone. I’ve been humiliated by others older than me reminding me of my limits. I share this with you to point out something we may have missed in regard to Jesus’ Great Commission in Matthew 28: 18-20. Jesus told his disciples, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” There are some who have become a Christian simply because they don’t want to go to hell. There are sort of like the bike riders I’ve encountered who ride just to avoid being ridiculed by their peers for NOT riding. Then, there are those who ride because they know they have to do SOMETHING to stay in shape. They can’t see themselves running. They don’t like to swim or lift weights, so this is the obvious choice. These are the Christians who come to church because they know it’s the right thing to do; who do things because they know they have to do something. And, then, there are the dedicated riders. They ride 100+ miles a week. They eat stuff that would make a dog puke. They take supplements and vitamins to get the most out of their training. These are the Christians who understand what Christ did for them on the cross. These are the ones so thankful to God for saving them that they are willing to give up the passing pleasures of sin for a season in order to experience the joy Christ offers. They go the extra mile. They spend time training to perfect their testimony. The person they compete against is themselves. They’re not out to shame others. They’re out to improve on their own time. So too is the conscience Christian. He grows through study. He serves willingly, not out of compulsion. He betters himself so as to serve Christ and not others. I close with the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 9: 26, “Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” Don’t serve the Lord out of compulsion. Serve out of appreciation and willingness.
Have a blessed day and remember the One who gave it to you! Kevin
Kevin Lough is the minister at the Whitehall Church of Christ in Fairmont WV.