1 Thessalonians 5:23 may your whole spirit, soul, and BODY be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…
This verse caught my attention this morning because last week, I did something I thought I would never do – Ran a marathon.
For most people, you don’t just wake up and say “I’m going to run a 26 mile race today.” Yes, one day, I decided I was going to run a marathon, but that was in May of ’22 and the race was in February of ’23. There is a previous decision, a process of preparation. There is an investment, a price to be paid, tickets, training, and so much more. There must be presence at the starting line, persistence toward the finish, power of mind over matter, and a passion to complete, before we ever get to the party of celebration.
And here is Paul, in this first of his letters. he is giving final instructions and tells them much they need to do. I sort of think this is a great set of instructions for potential marathoners. v13 – be at peace among yourselves v14 – warn those who are idle, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone. v15 – Pursue what’s good (don’t repay evil). v16 – Rejoice always – v17 – Pray constantly – v18 don’t stifle the Spirit….
I actually read and wrote on this passage one month ago on January 9 – but now it speaks fresh and living to me on the other side of this marathon, yet I’m still moving toward the next level. Yes, there is power for my Spirit, and Soul, but some days the Body just doesn’t want to cooperate. How do we get to the Heavenly Finish line? How do we get to completeness? It’s those “P-words”. A Previous decision, a Process of Preparation, Persistence, a Price being paid, Presence at the Start, Perseverance, Passion to finish – THEN comes the Party.
In the day-to-day struggle, sometimes I don’t want to and think I can’t, but I go on. It’s because of all of those “p-words”. I’ve said them twice already. Oh, the pre-race activities were fun, and the crowd at the start, the excitement, there were even fireworks. We had much fun at the beginning, through mile 6, and on to mile 10, even to the 1/2-way spot. But then about mile 16-18 it became WORK. And then it was a challenge of those “p-words” that kept me going. The goal wasn’t to be first; it wasn’t a certain time; it was to FINISH. So, I was doing whatever it took to finish.
But the great news here in Paul’s letter is that v24 says He who calls you is faithful, HE WILL DO IT.”
I wish this was the way it worked for the race, that Jesus just picked me up, but I WILL say that at times, my legs didn’t want to participate. My Achillies tendon argued – wanted to cramp – but I said, “NO, I’m getting there” and so I won out over the parts that weren’t so sure. Even in our spiritual life, it’s not like Jesus just picks us up and we glide down life’s path. But he is still in charge and getting us there.
My spirit, soul, AND body are SOUND – holokleros = sound, complete, perfect in every aspect – and then he says Blameless. Oh, I like this… but WHEN? At the Finish Line – at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It doesn’t say I’ll be FAST, or STRONG, or FIRST – but it does say I’ll be complete – When Jesus Comes, At the Finish line.
If you look at pictures of me during the race: In some I’m happy, some silly, some determined, some struggling, but at the Finish – I’m Satisfied, I’m finished, I’m Complete, I’m Sound – that’s the Goal.
When it comes to the life and race to Glory, it’s all about those “p-words”:
A Previous decision – made by Christ to make a way, and my decision to receive it by faith. A Price paid by Christ at the Cross. There was Perseverance, Persistence, Power, not my doing, but by the work of Christ In Me, to see me through, and my surrender to his work. There was Passion to complete, be complete. And so, before me lays the Party to celebrate. And Faithful is He who Calls me – He will do it. Jesus started it, he continues it, he will see to the finish, and then he will be waiting at the finish line.
See ya At the Finish Line!