Cheetahs & Christians

Mike Johnson

 The fastest land animal is a large cat called a cheetah.  It can run like a car driving down the interstate—almost 70 miles per hour.  The cheetah is built for running.  It has long legs, a very strong flexible spine which works like a spring, bending up and down allowing it to take even longer strides.  It has a very long tail which helps in balance.  The claws of the cheetah, especially when worn down some, act as cleats which give the animal better traction.

Although the cheetah has “speed to burn,” it has one big problem.  It can only maintain this velocity for a short time.  If it cannot catch its prey in a few seconds, it has to give up.  Even when the animal catches its prey, it has to rest for around thirty minutes before it can start to eat.  Thus, the cheetah, as fast as it is for a short time, does not have endurance.

Many who become Christians are like the cheetah.  They start very fast with a great deal of enthusiasm.  They do not, however, have “staying” power.  They only last for a short time and then fall away.

The stony soil, in the Parable of the Sower, represents such a person.  Of the four soils in the parable, one  was stony.   The  seed  which  fell  on  this  soil immediately sprang up (Mt. 13:5).  Later, Jesus explained the parable and pointed out specifically that the seed which fell on the stony place represents one who hears the Word and receives it immediately with joy.  He also said, “yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while” (NKJV). This person started well but due to difficulties, he fell away.

In the book of Galatians, Paul addressed the churches of Galatia.  Many there had erred in their teaching.  They were trying to bring the Jewish ordinance of circumcision into the law of Christ.  Paul told them that he marveled that they were “turning away so soon from Him who called you to the grace of Christ, to a different gospel.”   Later he told them ( 5:7), “You ran well.  Who hindered you from obeying the truth?”

Various passages are found  in the letters to the seven churches of Asia which encourage endurance.  The Lord told the church at Smyrna (Rev. 2:10) to, “…Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”  Christians are  to  be  faithful  as  long  as  they  live,  and  they  are to endure even to the point of being put to death.  He also told others in these letters, to hold fast (Note also Rev. 2:13; 3:3,11.)

An Olympic sprinter would have real problems trying to keep up with a cheetah.  With all of its speed, however, the cheetah just cannot run fast for very long.  Sadly, in a similar way, many have no endurance in their service to God today.  They start with the speed of a cheetah but they don’t last.  We must have perseverance in serving God.  Hebrews 10:23 says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

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