I know some of you may find this hard to believe if you have only got to know me as a middle-aged man with middle-aged spread but in my younger days, I was a half-decent cross country runner. In high school, I always finished in the first three and at a Police college over a longer course with more people I generally was first or second.
I say generally because on one run at Police College I came in about 10th. We had PTIs (physical training instructors) who would “encourage” us and after this performance, the PTI singled me out for some encouragement. “Petticrew, you kicked too late, you held back, you ended with too much left.” He was accusing me of not going all out, basically, he said I hadn’t given it my all.
Those cutting words from that sergeant came back to me recently when I read some very familiar words from Romans 12
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, Romans 12:1
Paul is essentially calling on us as Christ-followers not to be like me in that cross-country race at Tulliallan Police College. He is pleading with us because of all that Jesus has done for us, to hold nothing back in our living for Jesus. No part of a sacrificial animal was held back when it was placed on that altar in the Temple and Paul pleads with us to be like a sacrifice on the altar, to be all in for Jesus.
Paul quite often likened living as a disciple as running in a race. I have a fear that some of us might hear Jesus saying at the end of that race, “you kicked too late”, “you held back.” So many Christians live for Christ like I ran that race, holding back till it’s too late. They think, “I’ll be all in for Jesus” when the children get older when my career is established, when my marriage is better when I retire when life is less busy, but that time never comes.
Here is Paul sounding decidedly like my PTI, maybe you need to hear this today, as much as I did back then