Kingdom Running Mate
We have entered the season in the Presidential campaign where candidates choose their running mates. In the event a President is not able to continue to perform his (or her) duties, it is good to have a replacement. There is a progression of succession for the office of President, but it is good that the first option is elected by the people.
Of course, we don’t elect Vice-Presidents so they can just sit around waiting for something to happen to the President. They preside over the Senate, cast the deciding vote in case of a deadlock, and represent the President when He is called elsewhere.
Beyond this, a Presidential candidate selects a running mate that increases her (or his), chances of getting elected. Considerations include someone who can unify a political party or appeal to a distinct population of voters.
In the Kingdom of God, we don’t have political running mates, because we have “one Lord over all” (Ephesians 4:6). The Father, Son and Spirit are “one”, so we can’t refer to them as “mates”, and there is no need for anyone to be on standby in case the Lord is unable to perform His duties. He doesn’t technically have duties since He doesn’t answer to anyone, no one else is capable of filling His role, and there will never be a time when He is unable to lead.
Yet, there are running “running mates” in the Kingdom of God. Hebrews 12:1 reads, “let us run with perseverance.” The Christian life is a race, and we are not alone.
Just as political candidates choose running mates to complement their campaigns, we have running mates that enhance our work for the kingdom. However, we aren’t ultimately in charge of this dynamic. It is God who arranges members of His church exactly as He wants them to be (1 Corinthians 12:18). This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do our best to discern each other’s strengths and weaknesses and find ways to serve in ways we are most likely to be successful. Rather, it reminds us, as brothers and sisters in Christ, we are God’s gift to each other, drawn together as the redeemed to be the church on earth.
Have you ever thought about how important it is to have running mates move with you in your Christian walk? Unfortunately, sometimes we view other people in the kingdom as something else. We might see them as caterers who show up at the rally to make sure we have everything we need. Or we consider them constituents who are expected to support our agendas.
They are precious gifts from God who serve alongside us with one mind and heart. It is impossible for them to fill our shoes, because each of us has our own calling from God, but they can fill up the ministry God has prepared for them to perform in concert with us.
This raises a meddlesome question: how do we treat our running mates in the kingdom? When we volunteer for an important task, do we shirk our responsibility and expect others to take our place? I’m not talking about emergencies that call us away from our duties. Rather, I am thinking of an attitude that says, “It doesn’t matter. Someone else will do it.”
Is that how running mates treat each other? Does this sound like a willingness to “run with perseverance?”
Do we treat our running mates favorably when we need help and ignore them when we don’t? Are we condescending, critical, unkind and unloving toward our running mates?
I know, I know! We didn’t choose our running mates, and sometimes we wonder why in the world they decided to run the race with us.
Maybe the same thought has occurred to them.
Maybe this campaign we call the Christian life is somewhat of a mystery to all of us.
But we should be thankful for our running mates. We may not run at the same pace, use the same stride, or follow the same strategy. Yet, we run together, and more are joining the race every day.
Everyone needs a running mate. If you think you are alone, let me know.
I’ll have a word with the Coach.