A few months ago, a physical therapy group that specialized in sports rehab started a campaign to promote its services to the general public. The tag line was something like, “Everyone’s an athlete.” The images showed a casual cyclist or someone lifting heavy boxes. The idea was to associate everyday activities with injury that could be helped with these services.
I scoffed at the campaign, mainly because it I thought it was a slam to people who discipline their bodies to perform amazing physical feats. If everyone is an athlete, then we must rely on descriptors to define the categories (true athlete, serious athlete, casual athlete, lazy athlete, etc.).
But the idea has come around to apply quite nicely to a concept mentioned in a study I’m completing, titled The Glory of the Gospel. In it, the author has pulled content from concepts developed by Timothy Keller, some of which I had read in his book The Prodigal God. In summary, the message matches that physical therapy campaign, asserting that we are all runners. At least, in a spiritual sense, because:
We are all running from God.
Of course, the study and Keller spend many pages explaining this concept. I highly recommend reading both! Here’s how I am understanding it so far:
Either we are running from God by shunning a prescribed set or rules and living however we please, or we are running from God by adhering to a prescribed set of rules and living however we please. In both cases, we are running and living life in a way that satisfies our own heart.
If we shun the rules and live through a relativistic grid, we roll our proverbial eyes at the rule keepers. They are stuffy and conservative and old fashioned and ignorant.
If we adhere to the rules and live through a moralistic grid, we roll our proverbial eyes at the rule breakers. They are loose and unfettered and immoral and ignorant.
When we run from God (either by rule keeping or rule breaking), we have decided how everyone should live life—and we become judge of the way everyone else lives, especially when it doesn’t match the grid we’ve chosen.
Interestingly enough, the Gospel breaks both of these grids, freeing all of us from our bent to run from God and judge everyone else. Only the Gospel frees us from judging and works the humility of Jesus in, allowing us to approach others—both rule keepers and rule breakers—in love and with acceptance.
The Gospel give us a new grid, one that identifies both our rule keeping and our rule breaking as ways we run from God. Both types of runners live life how they see fit, on their own merit. The Gospel offers us a way out from our running and judging and trying. The Gospel invites us to rest our weary legs and eyes and hearts in Christ.
In coming to God through Jesus, our alternate grids get smashed so that we can live free according to the Gospel grid. It takes time—that’s why Christians aren’t perfect and still do plenty of rule keeping and rule breaking. Grace is a necessity. Jesus is good to love us to the end.
We are all prone to run from God in one way or another. I’m curious, which sort of runner are you?