The Weekly Epistle 4/17/24

Hi Living Hope Family,
It was hard to be so many miles away from you during such a difficult time for the church family and particularly not being physically present for Betsy and the family.  I am thankful for the many ways the church stepped up under Pastor Dan’s leadership.  Even though I did try to minister from a distance and stay in the loop of all that was going on, it wasn’t the same. 
Something else that wasn’t the same was worshipping at another church.  I missed my church family and am biased toward the worship at Living Hope.  On one of the Sundays as I was truly receiving food for my soul, and it was a good sermon, my mind wandered about certain points and illustrations I might make around the passage.  It is an occupational hazard. 
The sermon was about finishing well from John 21.  In that passage after Jesus informs Peter of how he will spend his final days on earth and speaks of the way that Peter will die, he commands him to, “follow me.” Peter’s immediate response to that was to look around at one of the other disciples and asks Jesus, “What about him?”  And Jesus in essence says, “Don’t worry about anyone else, just follow me.”
Isn’t that often the case?  We can easily get our eyes on people.  We overly concern ourselves with what others are doing or not doing.  We may not say it out loud, but we think, “What about him?  Why isn’t she serving?”
As I was listening to the preacher make his point that in order to finish well we need to keep our eyes focused on Jesus and not on people, my mind went to John Landy. 
In 1960 there was a famous race in Canada between two great runners. The four-minute mile was about to be broken and the world expected John Landy or Roger Banister to do it. John Landy had been leading for most of the race and there was only about two hundred yards to go. They were coming out of the last corner when John Landy looked behind to see where his opponent was placed. At that very moment Roger Banister passed him on the outside while he was looking back on the inside. He lost the race and will go down in history as the runner who looked back. He should have been concerned with running his own race. But he took his eyes off the finish line and looked at his opponent, and that cost him the race.
How many have left the church because their eyes were on people?  How much ground do we lose in running the race because we look at how others are running the race?  Have you found yourself saying, “What about him?” 
Church, let’s be concerned with running our race.  That’s not to say, we don’t have any responsibility to others as they run their race, but we are not to become distracted by others whose role may be different than ours.  We are not to worry about everyone else and what God’s plan may be for them.  Jesus says, “Follow me.” 
I am reminded of the words of Jonathan Edwards, “Resolved: that all men should live for the glory of God. Resolved second: That whether others do or not, I will.”
Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus!  Pastor Brian