What a Marathon and Donald Sterling Taught Me About Loving People

runnersmarathonEarlier this week I ran the OKC marathon. It was my third full marathon to run, but my first time to run the OKC Memorial. The race started two hours late due to storms, pushing the event deeper into the humidity, heat, and wind of the day. This made for brutal conditions. My time was really bad and it was by far the worst I had done at a marathon. However, I wanted to run the marathon closest to where I live and experience the significance of what this race means since it is connected to the memory of the bombing of the Murrah Building.

In every marathon I have run one of the things that strikes me most is the incredibly wide variety of people who are running. If you like to people watch, you should definitely run a marathon! There are big and small people, old and young people, mean and kind people, loud and quiet people, and slow and fast runners. I saw shirts with profanity and profane statements and I saw shirts with Bible verses. One gentleman in his sixties was singing out loud the soundtrack to the movie Frozen. I saw a guy running in flip flops and another guy barefoot. Some were running to honor the memory of a loved one. One husband and wife ran the whole 26.2 miles pushing their child in a stroller. A firefighter ran the entire marathon in his fire fighting gear including oxygen tank. In those conditions on that day, I can’t imagine how difficult that was.

All this to say, when it comes to a marathon “it takes all types.” In observing these people, some inspired me. Some made me laugh. Some made me want to be angry. Others disappointed me. Some made me ask, “What are they thinking?” and “Why would they do that?” or “Why would they wear that?” And as I was observing this variety of people, the Lord reminded me these are the ones He came to save. Jesus did not die just for the people that I “like,” that encourage me, and are similar to me, but also for the ones who offend me, are nothing like me, and make me want to shake my head. The marathon is a fitting microcosm of when the Bible says, “For God so loved the world…”

How important it is to remember this truth in a world that still contains those with the mindset of a Donald Sterling, the LA Clippers owner who recently made egregious racist remarks. As NBA on TNT analyst Kenny Smith noted, “Racism is a refuge for ignorance.” How very true. The thought that I might be better than someone because they physically look different from me is repugnant- and stupid. The thought that God would withhold His love and salvation for the same reason is just as indescribably abhorrent.

I hope you will pause today and remember that God loves everyone. Everyone. Regardless of what they look like, what they say, what they wear, or how they conduct themselves. He created them, cares for them, and calls them to follow Him. In light of this fact, we need to be careful of how we perceive others and how we treat them. Let’s be conduits of God’s grace and Gospel to all the people we encounter.

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