‘Run, Forrest, Run!’
Christians are to be runners with a message, but in our present day, the message has become garbled.
That line, “Run, Forrest, run!” is one of my favorites from the classic 1994 movie, “Forrest Gump.” Forrest is wearing braces on his legs and some bullies are after him. Jenny, his childhood sweetheart, tells him to run, and he takes off. As he begins to run, his braces come off and he’s killing it. That theme surfaces several times in the movie.
When we think of running, our normal perspective is one of winning, of victory, of accomplishment, and that’s a good thing. As Christians, we’re called to run the race, and our race is a marathon, not a sprint. To further amplify this fact, we’re called to run with a message. Jesus referred to it as the Gospel in Matthew 26:13. The Greek word here, euaggelion, means “good news, tidings” (Young’s Analytical Concordance). This “good news” was what Jesus was referring to in the Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you [Gospel]. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, ESV). Seems clear enough.
In warfare, it’s important that a messenger convey a message clearly. Failure to do so can lead to disaster. Scripture gives us an example of a poor messenger. In II Samuel, Absalom leads a revolt against David his father. In Chapter 18, the armies meet in battle and Absalom is defeated. He was then killed by Joab, David’s commander. Ahimaaz, son of Zadok the priest, wants to run and tell King David. Joab sends Cushi to carry the message. “Then Ahimaaz the son of Zadok said again to Joab, ‘Come what may, let me also run after the Cushite.’ And Joab said, ‘Why will you run, my son, seeing that you will have no reward for the news?’ ‘Come what may,’ he said, ‘I will run.’ So, he said to him, ‘Run.’ Then Ahimaaz ran by the way of the plain and outran the Cushite” (II Samuel 18:22-23). He gets there and fumbles and bumbles about what had happened (18:28-30) and says nothing about Absalom’s death. He got there first but he had no message of value.
Christians are to be runners with a message, but in our present day, the message has become garbled. If you were to gather Christian leaders together and ask them to define the terms “disciple” and “Gospel,” I’d wager you would get a different definition from each person you asked. Paul gives us insight when he wrote to the Corinthian believers about speaking in tongues: “And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?” (I Corinthians 14:8). The context is about understanding. If we do not have a clear understanding about our message and methods, our tactics and strategy, we will not be effective in our mission.
Let me give you the best definitions that I have found in over 40 years as a Christian.
Disciple: “One who is following Christ, is being changed by Christ, and is committed to the mission of Christ. ‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men’” (Matthew 4:19, NIV).
The Gospel: “The Kingdom of God has come through Jesus of Nazareth to restore relationship with mankind. He is the Christ, The King, God’s one and only Son. He died on the cross for our sins, was buried and was resurrected on the third day according to the scriptures. In HIS great love and by HIS amazing grace, God our Father saves everyone who REPENTS of their sin, BELIEVES in Him and FOLLOWS Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. When King Jesus returns on the last day for HIS Church all who have been restored and followed Him will enter the eternal Kingdom of God” (Real Life Ministries, Texas Doctrinal Statement).
If I am to be a faithful and effective messenger (witness), then I must understand who I am as a disciple and the nature of the message that I am to convey. I do not want to be like Ahimaaz, who ran faster but had nothing of value to say when he arrived. I want to deliver lifesaving, and life-changing, news about King Jesus. What say ye, Man of Valor?
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