You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? Galatians 5:7
Paul loved to use the metaphor of running a race to describe the journey of the Christian life.
In his letter to the believers in Jesus who were living in the city of Galatia, he told them they were running a good race. That meant they were making progress, growing, on track, pointed in the right direction, winning.
Then he asked them, “Who cut in on you?” When a runner intentionally cuts in on you, they’re trying to take over your lane, slow you down, throw you off track or even cause you to fall. Back in chapter three verse one, Paul posed the same question in a different way. He asked, “Who has bewitched you?” Putting the two questions together, we might say that a person is “running off at the mouth” telling lies about Christ and the Christian way of life, and you are believing it. They’re “casting a spell” over you. When you take the bait, it throws you off track in pursuing the good race that leads to freedom and spiritual prosperity.
For the Galatians, it was the Judaizers. These were early Jewish Christians who were opposing Paul by persuading Gentile believers that they needed to follow the laws of the Old Testament, including being circumcised, in order to truly be a Christian. It’s really hard to believe that we can be freed from our sin and inherit eternal life in God’s presence purely on an act of grace through faith in Christ, but it is totally true. Anything else, Paul says, is a “different gospel – which is no gospel at all” (Galatians 1:6-7). The Galatian believers needed to reject this distraction as a lie and get back on track moving towards the goal line.
What ways are people “cutting in” on believers today who are running a good race?
Here are a few of the dominant and persuasive voices of our day that are derailing numbers of believers:
• “You have to be stupid to believe there is a God.”
• “When you die, you just die. There’s nothing else.”
• “The Bible is a book of fiction and fairy tales, not a book inspired by God.”
• “There’s nothing wrong with that.”
• “Oh, nobody believes that anymore.”
These are the modern day Judaizers who draw us off track with God:
• The boyfriend or girlfriend who isn’t interested in spiritual things.
• The college professor who makes you feel small for believing in God.
• The addiction that draws you slowly down a dark path.
• The group of friends who won’t let you belong if you don’t do what they do.
• The co-worker or “friend” who is jealous of your success and life.
• The adult who abused you and convinced you that you are unlovable.
• The voice in your own head that believes you’re out of God’s reach.
How do we prevent others from cutting in on us and derailing the good race we’re running?
1. Know what you believe and why it matters.
Here are the top ten questions every believer needs to be able to answer with deep conviction. We have clearly and concisely answered these questions in the first ten chapters of the Believe journey. The challenge is to know these ten key ideas like the back of your hand.
a. Who is God?
b. Does he care for me?
c. How do I come into a relationship with God?
d. How do I know God and his will for my life?
e. Who am I?
f. How does God accomplish his plan on earth?
g. How does God see us?
h. What about the poor and injustice?
i. What is God’s call on my life?
j. What happens next?
2. Practice your faith with the discipline of a winning athlete.
When you engage your faith and practice the disciplines that Jesus modeled, it embeds the ten key truths deep into your heart. When a belief takes up residence in the heart, not just in our heads, it will shape us into the kind of person God intended us to be from the very beginning (Romans 8:29). Here is a list of the key practices found in the Bible:
a. How to worship God
b. How to pray
c. How to study the Bible
d. How to establish priorities
e. How to live a sacrificial life
f. How to live in community
g. How to use my spiritual gift
h. How to use my time
i. How to manage my money
j. How to share my faith
This is the focus of the second ten chapters of Believe. The goal is for every believer to not only know about these key disciplines of the Christian faith, but to be functionally competent in their practice of them. Every day that you practice your faith, you’ll get stronger and wiser. So the next time someone tries to cut in on you, you won’t let them. You will have the sense about you to spot their scheme, and you’ll have the skills to overtake them and stay focused on your goal – to win the race set before you.