I knew a man who built and raced sports cars as a hobby. I asked him one day if he’d let me drive one of his custom-built cars. “Is your insurance paid up?” he asked in reply. He told me about his fondness for racing. It is exhilarating. The adrenaline rush, the excitement of pushing a machine to its limits of speed and control and the ultimate thrill of victory kept him coming back for more. Success required practice. Practice produced skill and peak awareness, he told me.
The New Testament compares the Christian life to a race. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24). The apostle Paul is telling us that following Jesus requires intensity and focus, just like entering and running a race.
Unfortunately, some people seem to be on cruise control in their spiritual lives. Cruise control is convenient. It enables a driver to match the flow of traffic with less personal effort and concentration. I have found there is less fatigue on a long road trip.
Cruise control Christians are content to match their level of spiritual commitment to the standards of those around them. In his book The Disciplines of Grace, Jerry Bridges pointed out that these are the folks who are content to go with the flow. They try not to lag too far behind, but neither do they try to forge ahead for the Lord. They are mired in the heavy traffic of spiritual mediocrity.
God is calling them to a higher standard of spiritual living.
I don’t want to be a cruise control Christian. I want to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). To do that I will need to keep my foot on the accelerator and my eye on the track. My goal should be victory. This is possible if I am intentional about growing spiritually.
I have certain spiritual practices (otherwise called “disciplines”) that are a necessary part of my life as a Christian. They are essential for my growth and victory in the Christian life. These spiritual priorities are good habits that have been built into my daily and weekly routine. I pursue them not because I am a pastor, but because they are necessary for my growth as a Christian man and as a disciple of Jesus.
If you have discovered some helpful practices that keep you on the right track spiritually, I invite you to share them with me by using the contact form below. Perhaps your ideas and example can influence other readers to stay in the race and keep moving forward for Jesus Christ.
Maybe I will get to drive a sports car in a road rally someday. But more than that I want to approach the Christian life the way my friend approached winning a race, putting everything into the effort, not on cruise control.