“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
(1 Corinthians 9:24–27, ESV)
No one, as far as I know, is baptized and taken straight into heaven. Instead, we are baptized into Christ, into this new life and relationship with Jesus. We are baptized into a new existence of priceless opportunities and responsibilities.
“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
(Galatians 3:27, ESV)
We begin this new life like a new born baby. We don’t just suddenly appear as a new Christian with new spiritual powers, we are born into this new life.
“Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
(John 3:5–6, ESV)
This new world can be scary and drastically different from what we are accustomed to living in. This new life requires slow and steady growth to learn how to survive in it. Just like the new baby is expected to eventually grow physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We too are expected to grow up to maturity, into adulthood, into full grown Christian maturity.
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,”
(Ephesians 4:15, ESV)
As we grow and learn all that it means to live as a Christian, we slowly begin to live more like Jesus. From the first day of our new life until the very last day, the day that we die (or Jesus returns) we must strive to grow.
The new life we are born into at baptism is not a world of complacency and ease. The new life is a life of blessings and privileges but it is also a life where we are expected to accomplish the work of Christ. The Christian life is not about being in comfort, pleasure, and popularity. Instead, it is a life of love and service to our great God, His people, and to our fellow man.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
(Hebrews 12:1–2, ESV)
We have been born again to run this race that is called Christianity. We are born again so that we have the right and opportunity run the race and to win the crown of victory that will never perish. To do that we must accept that Jesus expects us to grow up, to work, and to develop a sound faith that will never quit.
Are you ready to run? Are you ready to win?