I made the mistake last night of watching the final fifty laps of the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. I used to enjoy watching the “restricter plate” races at Daytona and Talladega. Cars would race in long lines, drafting off one another, patiently waiting for the moment to give it their best shot at victory. With the recent re-paving, the famous drafting at Daytona was replaced with tandem racing, cars pairing up and pushing each other around the 2.5 mile super-speedway, two-by-two. As I watched the race last night, it did not take long for me to see the beautiful analogy to the Christian life. Here’s the picture:
That’s Jimmy Johnson pushing Dale Earnhardt, Jr., at about 190 mph. Pretty exciting for them; a bit boring for the fans. But consider the analogy. Isn’t this a perfect picture of the Christian experience? Without the efforts of Jimmy Johnson, Junior has no hope to advance, pass other cars, or possibly win the race. Without the help of the local church and fellow believers, I don’t have a hope to run the Christian race effectively to its completion.
There’s the motivation for regular church attendance. Were you able to attend this morning? I was not because of the fact that Celena isn’t up to leaving the house yet. Since I preached last week at our church, I sent Jodi and one of the boys this morning. As a result, I went on a search to look for a car to push me around the track for a while. Nothing replaces the ministry of the local church, but I am grateful for the edifying resources so available to me. This morning I watched a complete sermon by Paul Washer (Want to be challenged spiritually? Watch some Paul Washer clips and/or sermons on You Tube!) Paul pushed me. Earlier this week, I had lunch with my pastor who pushed me. Princeton theologian, Charles Hodge, pushed me on Friday. Consider for a moment my role in the race. I asked my pastor if he could meet me for lunch. I opened up and read Hodge. I chose to find and watch a sermon this morning. In other words, I choose to continue racing rather than rest in the pits. Because God is at work in me, I am working out my salvation (Phil. 2:12,13).
Finally, we need to ask ourselves whether or not we are doing our part to push others. In the race last night, the trail car, the car pushing the other, became very hot. From time to time, the cars needed to trade places. The back car would become the front car so that it would not overheat and blow up! The same is true for us! Others need our help! So–are we effectively pushing others? That’s one of the reasons we attend church.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Heb. 10:23-25).
If you are a Christian, you are to be racing today! God has given you a new day and another week in which you can encourage other racers! Some laps, you need to be pushed. On other laps you need to push. Either way, you need to be racing.
Are you racing to the glory of God? Are you committed to doing so until the checkered flag?
PS–Speaking of racing, I entered Dayton’s world (he’s the five-year-old) this morning. I learned that I am pretty good at racing “Mushroom Gorge” (don’t ask me to explain)! Not bad for a non-gamer! I don’t know if it means anything, but Dayton did make me race as a monkey. Is that bad?