June 24, 2024
George T. Ferrier

Every member of a relay team is vital to its success. They must brilliantly run their leg of the race and then securely hand off the baton to the next runner. Similarly, each believer may be viewed as a runner on a multi-generational relay team, responsible for serving their generation and ensuring that the baton of faith, the “faith which was once for all delivered to the saints,” is passed down to succeeding generations (Jude 3). New Testament truth is as relevant and applicable today as it was to the early Church. God’s Word spans time and culture for there is one Lord, one Spirit, one body, one faith (Eph. 4:4-6).

Let us consider a few snares that could veer us off course in the Church’s relay race that has already spanned twenty centuries. The first is spiritual apathy driven by the many distractions prevalent in the world today. The Lord understands our need to work and provide for our families. However, we must not allow society to conform us to its mold, using wealth and leisure to crowd out our sanctification and spiritual growth. Christ, our Head, must be preeminent (Col. 1:18), through regular Bible study, “family altars,” and regular attendance and service in the local assembly (Heb. 10:25). The ordinary affairs and vicissitudes of life must not disrupt our spiritual lives.

A second snare is discouragement. It is easy for the death of a loved one, a job setback, or lack of visible fruit in the Lord’s work to lead us to despair and a pessimistic outlook. However, we cannot let disappointments paralyze us for it can lead to irrational fears (Numb. 13; Deut. 1:19-46), arouse feelings of abandonment (1 Kings 19:14), and bring about a desire to give up (Heb. 12:12). Knowing believers can be affected by this deadly malady there is a great need for encouragers in the local church, people like Barnabas who introduced Saul (Paul) to the apostles (Acts 9:27) and facilitated his entry into service at Antioch (11:25-26).

Another is forgetting that Christ has called us to serve. A common expression in Scripture is that servants “stand” before their master. They wait for instructions, then immediately depart to carry out the given commands (Gen. 41:46; 1 Kings 17:1; 18:15; Zech. 3:1; Luke 1:19). Serving Christ is our reasonable service and an act of worship (cf. Deut. 10:8; 2 Chron. 29:11; Rom. 12:1). Yet, we must also be wary that a busy ministry does not sideline a regular quiet time with the Lord which can lead to serving in the flesh. We stand before Him first and then we go out.

Finally, we can sometimes forget the grandeur of Christ’s building project. We belong to a work of God which is far more illustrious than any world entity today. It is Christ’s eternal purpose to construct His holy, organic edifice through the hands, feet, and voices of its composite living stones (1 Pet. 2:4-5). Let us never cease to marvel that God gives us the honor of serving Him. Long ago a discouraged Methodist preacher wrote to the great Scottish preacher Alexander Whyte to ask his counsel. Should he leave the ministry? “Never think of giving up preaching!” Whyte wrote to him. “The angels around the throne envy you your great work!” The angels would love to have our opportunity. What a joy! What a privilege! What a responsibility!

Though the lead and anchor runners normally stand out, all the members of the winning team receive the gold medal. The equally important second and third leg runners are not left out. Nor will those who quietly served the Lord in background roles. The Lord will recognize all who participated and ran well in their divinely assigned roles.
Are we participating with the zeal of a runner, anticipating the crown, or are we sitting on the sidelines? Don’t let the discouragements of the past, the burdens of today, or the fears of tomorrow paralyze us from grasping the baton and pressing on. Those who have already passed the baton are cheering us on. Don’t let our teammates down. Especially don’t let our Captain down.