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Are we working as cathedral builders?

An older man was hiking in the woods with a young friend when they stumbled upon a big, angry bear. Both men took off running, but it was obvious the bear was going to overtake them if something didn’t happen soon. The older man stopped, quickly pulled off his boots and began to slip on running shoes.

“You can’t outrun a bear, even in those shoes!” the younger man cried out.

“Son,” the older man said as he stood up, “I don’t have to outrun that bear. I only have to outrun you!”

Ouch! This story says a lot about our world and the lifestyle that surrounds us. Selfishness and greed are celebrated as standards to follow and allegiance should only be given to ourselves.

In the business world, job security is replaced with corporate downsizing. On the other side, company loyalty now becomes upward mobility.

In marriages, “til’ death do us part” is replaced with, prenuptial agreements.

“I don’t have to outrun the bear, I only have to outrun you!”

This is the world and life we are exposed to where our sole allegiance is to ourselves.

No wonder the prophet Isaiah wrote: “I know how stubborn and obstinate you are. Your necks are as unbending as iron. You are as hard headed as bronze.” (48:4)

“I don’t have to outrun the bear, I only have to outrun you.”

That phrase may define our culture, but it does not have to define you. We can choose to be different. Jesus offers the bread of life so we will never be hungry again. Jesus establishes the example of unselfish, sacrificial love. If we have faith in Christ, we show the same unselfish sacrificial love. The secret is our faith in Christ. We will have the bread of life. We will never be hungry or thirsty again.

Three construction workers were asked by a reporter: “What is your role in this project?”

• One said, “Breaking rocks.”

• Another said, “Earning a living.”

• The third said, “I’m helping to build a cathedral.”

Which of these workers would you use? Or, which worker best matches your attitude?

Christians who live a life of fulfillment see themselves as cathedral builders, part of a greater vision of building God’s kingdom. No matter what their individual role might be, they know they contribute to a mighty and worthwhile enterprise.

As Christian adventurers, we follow the teachings of Jesus and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We contribute to a mighty and worthwhile enterprise. We have spiritual gifts to carry out our mission.

People ask me, “Why do I need to go to church? I can be bored anywhere. Why dress up and go there?”

My answer? If you are going to be a Christian, you’ve signed on to the most fulfilling adventure of all time, and you are going to need all the encouragement and support you can get. That’s what the church should be doing best, providing that day-to-day support you need to carry out your mission.

And the story of the two men and the running shoes? “I don’t have to outrun the bear; I only have to outrun you!” Here is another possible ending to that story. The older man stops to put on his running shoes and hands another pair to his partner. “Quickly, put these on, and run with me,” he says. “Together, with God’s help, we can both outrun the bear.”

That is the spirit of Christ at work: running shoes for two, guided and motivated by the life-giving love of Jesus Christ.

REV. LARRY E. DAVIES can be reached at larrydavies@vaumc.org.