1 Peter 2:9-10
God’s Own Possession
How have you benefited from the support of people around you?
October 10: The day of the Chicago Marathon. The weather is cool and clear, perfect for running. The early morning sun reflects off the skyscrapers, and a huge crowd of marathoners — 40,000 in all — converge on a park next to Lake Michigan.
I wade into the crowd and wait for the starting gun to go off. My warm-up garment is a T-shirt from an organization called “25:40,” which provides assistance to children in Africa who have been orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. 25:40 is a reference to the passage in which Jesus says, “when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me” (Matthew 25:40).
The gun goes off, and I move slowly forward. The course is lined with fans screaming encouragement to everyone in the race, and musical groups appear every few blocks, playing everything from hip-hop to salsa to “The Star Spangled Banner.” The enthusiasm of fans along the route is contagious.
As the miles drop behind me, I think of the many pledges that church members have made to 25:40 in connection with my run. Their pledges of a dollar a mile, two dollars a mile, five dollars a mile all keep me going, because I know that my steps will be translated into lifesaving assistance for the children of Africa. Sure, I’m working hard as I run, but not nearly as hard as the people who are fighting AIDS in Africa every day.
At that point, I realize that I am not running alone. Instead, I am part of “God’s people” (1 Peter 2:10). I keep pushing forward, and as I face a wave of fatigue, images of children in Africa begin to help me. Whenever I feel like giving up, I think of their perseverance. Whenever I’m about to quit, I think of what they have to endure. In the end, I run across the finish line at mile 26.2 ... thinking of the children.
I broke no world records that day. In fact, I came in number 10,851 out of 33,125 finishers. My time of 4:01:00 was almost two hours after the top male finisher! But still, I succeeded in raising $5,000 to help a struggling group of orphans, supported by a Virginia congregation and a Chicago crowd. Together, we discovered that whenever we help one of the least of our brothers and sisters, we are really helping Jesus. Together, our actions illustrated the acts of the God who called us “out of darkness into his amazing light” (verse 9).
I crossed the finish line because I did not run alone — instead, I was part of “a holy nation, a people who are God’s own possession” (verse 9). My success was due to the support of the Christian community, and to the opportunity to be a source of encouragement to a group of children who are running the toughest of races.
Thank you, God, for the inspiration that comes from others, and from the opportunity to serve. Amen.