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Summary: For some reason, it makes perfect sense to most of us, to not try and run the Boston Marathon without proper training. But when it comes to our relationship with Christ, we make the decision to follow Him and think that we can just sit back and enjoy the

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If you guys can remember what we talked about two weeks ago, we began to look at our mission statement – Living to Grow, Serve, Worship, and Share. We spent the majority of our time focusing on the importance of “living together.” For starters we talked about that this was a major component to the way we were created. “It is not good for man to be alone,” God exclaimed after he had made Adam and hadn’t made Eve yet. We were created to be in relationship with others.

We then talked about two opportunities that are very important to “living together” and that God uses to work in our lives as well though our lives. First, we talked about the importance of being in small groups that go beyond just hanging out but go deeper in an attitude of love and care for each other. These times are not about selfishly trying to get all the help and attention you can but instead about extending your heart to others in the group and loving selflessly.

The second opportunity was one that was a little challenging for some. That was the importance of being in a multigenerational worship setting. Coming to Breakaway is great but you miss out on a lot of things that God wants to do in you and through you when you neglect worshiping with people older and younger than you. I get a very different thing out of worshipping on a Sunday morning with a mix of generations that what I do on a Monday night. Both are very good…but both are also very necessary.

From there, we tied in the importance of worship and the fact that worship is not about you or me, but it is about first and foremost, bringing praise to God and secondly, about selflessly helping others to do the same.

Tonight, we are going to move on in our mission statement to the issue and importance of growing to become more like Christ. Two weeks ago, as we looked at the creation story to talk about the importance of living together, I want to again start there as we explore the importance of growth.

In Genesis 1:26-27, as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are nearing the end of the creation process, we read the following, “Then God said, ‘Let us make people in our image, to be like ourselves’…So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them.”

Straight from the get go we were created in the likeness, in the image, of the one and only God! Originally, we were created perfect without blemish and in perfect relationship with our Heavenly Father. For a time, man didn’t have to work to become like God, we didn’t have to worry about growing into His likeness because we already were.

But, as we all know the story, that didn’t last long. Adam and Eve exercised their free will, gave into Satan’s temptation, and disobeyed God’s one loving and protective command. When that happened, the knowledge of evil entered into the heart of humans and our perfect relationship with God was broken.

Now we are left constantly battling our sinful natures and the evil surrounding us on a daily basis as we have to work very hard just to get a glimpse of the relationship with God that we once had. But, despite the difficulty and the things that surround us, working and growing into the likeness of Christ is our responsibility and very important in our Christian lives. Let’s explore this issue deeper by opening our Bibles to 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.

***Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27***

Here, in his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul compares the life of a Christian to an athlete running a race. There is such a stark similarity to that of an athlete preparing for and competing in any event and the life that we as Christians need to be living. To help us with this comparison, we have a short skirt for you to enjoy.

***Unprepared Runner – Scene begins as a man is stretching and preparing to start the Boston Marathon. He verbally is going over the race in his head proving his preparations. As he is doing that, a second man comes over very excited and energetic. The second man explains that he has always wanted to run the Boston Marathon and woke up this morning and felt like going for it. The two men have a brief conversation on the shock and stupidity of this event. Eventually the race starts. The two men run for a little bit together but eventually the second man, out of shape and exhausted, slows down, begins huffing and puffing, and eventually passes out.***

It is almost near impossible to run a race or compete in any other major sporting event when you have not practiced or trained. It is not only impossible but also dangerous. If you tried to go out and run the Boston Marathon without proper training, you could pull muscles and cause serious injuries to your body due to over exhaustion or overheating. On top of all that, it is just plain out stupid.

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