You Don’t Look Like a Runner
And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? 1 Corinthians 3:2-3
Yesterday, on the Facebook version of the blog, I published a photograph of me 10-15 years ago, running (or rather, walking) a marathon. Today, I thought I’d provide some context for that photo. Long before that photo was taken, when I was a few years younger and many pounds lighter, I’d run several marathons. Through residency and early years of medical practice, as my drug addiction grew, so did my waistline. I really wanted to get back into shape, so I signed up for the marathon in that photo. In the months leading up the race though, I trained poorly and ate worse, and so, when that day came, I honestly had no business being out there running (or waddling through) that race.
I wanted to run a marathon, and I actually did, but if you’d seen me off the race course at the time, you’d certainly not have suspected that I was a marathoner. I don’t look like a runner now. I looked a lot less like one the day that photo was taken, 30 pounds heavier. I wanted to be a runner, but almost everything about me – my behavior, my weight, my eating, my sedentary lifestyle – screamed that I was a couch potato. Again, I signed up for, participated in, and finished that miserable race, but no one their right mind would have said my life otherwise resembled that of a well-trained athlete.
Paul said something similar to the Corinthian church in today’s passage. In it, he acknowledged that they belonged to Christ, but he said they were infants. Yes, they had some authentic faith, but they weren’t what anyone would call spiritual people. Rather, they were still of the flesh. Technically, they were Christians, because they believed, but no one observing them would have thought they followed Christ because they still followed themselves. Their lives were still defined by their old, self-destructive natural tendencies.
Here’s the question for us then. What would others say about us if they observed us? Would they say that we obviously looked like Christians – that our lives reflect Christ? Do we live rightly, loving God and those around us? Or do we simply still live for ourselves? If we only claim faith without ever becoming more like Christ, then we’re still infants, never growing into who we were made to be. Spiritual growth, like being a marathoner, requires our participation. Daily, if we want growth and transformation, we must abandon the old, infantile life, embracing the new one.