Run No. 54 Distance: 4.53 miles (7.3 km) Time: 44’03” (PB 38’ 28”)
Run No. 55 Distance: 4.53 miles (7.3 km) Time: 42’44” (PB 38’ 28”)
Run No. 56 Distance: 4.53 miles (7.3 km) Time: 42’02” (PB 38’ 28”)
Run No. 57 Distance: 4.53 miles (7.3 km) Time: 42’02” (PB 38’ 28”)
Can the act of running change the place we run through?
It’s a somewhat bizarre idea. Yet for people of faith it is a core belief that somehow our presence, or more correctly, God’s presence in us, brings transformation.
The Bible is full of calls for those who are open to God to live differently, Jesus will speak to his followers of being salt and light in the world;
“You are the salt of the earth…
“You are the light of the world… let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Salt speaks of preserving, purifying and light obviously is opposed to darkness and all that symbolises.
So the presence of people who are open to God, living according to his values and priorities, showing his love to the world, should by their presence, change the nature of the place where they are.
There is a poetic picture of this in the psalms, it is a pilgrim psalm, a song sung by the people of Israel as they made their annual pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem.
‘Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baka,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.’
The word ‘Bakah’ means to weep, and this word play seems to be intended. The idea is that as the worshipping band of pilgrims pass through this place of weeping they transform it.
The Hebrew word for ‘pools’ is ‘berakah’ which also means ‘blessing’.
So ‘bakah’ becomes ‘berakah’, ‘weeping’ turns to ‘blessing’; as God’s people pass through.
Some of this is the natural effect of their different way of living and relating, their kinder, gentler, more loving approach to others.
However there is also a sense that something is happening at a spiritual, supernatural level too.
Jesus spoke a lot about the establishment of the ‘Kingdom of God’. This was not going to be a socio-political entity, but rather a mystical/spiritual one.
The Kingdom of God comes when people choose to live under the authority of the King. When individuals and families choose to turn away from selfishness and evil and to live in a way that pleases God, that is when the Kingdom comes. As such it comes invisibly, it comes slowly, and yet its presence is powerfully felt and radically transformative of society.
In the second century an unknown author remarked on this fact;
For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe… But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life.
They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all others; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death and restored to life. They are poor yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of and yet are justified; they are reviled and bless; they are insulted and repay the insult with honour; they do good yet are punished as evildoers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred. To sum it all up in one word — what the soul is to the body, that are Christians in the world.
Epistle to Diognetes c. 130A.D.
Although the author was not a follower of Jesus himself, he could not help but notice that the presence of Jesus people in a society transformed it for the better.
So the Kingdom of God is established by the simple presence of those who live under the authority of the King.
In the Old Testament the Kingdom of God is foreshadowed by the Promised Land, this territory that God will give to His people.
There are a couple of verses that speak about how they are to take possession of this land;
I will give you every place where you place your feet.
Every place where you set your foot will be yours
I will give you every place where you set your foot
It is simply by being present that they earn the right to the land, God will give them wherever they are willing to go.
As we run, do we run with this in view?
Are we people of salt and light whose lives, values, behaviour, conversation, and priorities are so radical and strikingly different to those of society around us, that our simple presence brings transformation?
Are we asking God to establish His Kingdom in every place where our foot falls?
Run with a mission.