Have you heard the fable about “The Tortious and the Hare?” I thought so. A fable is defined by one dictionary source as “a short, fictional tale to teach a moral lesson, often with animals or inanimate objects as characters.” Fables, by definition are made up, fictional stories.
In “The Tortious and the Hare” there is a race between a tortious and a rabbit. Naturally we would expect the rabbit to win by a mile...but he gets distracted and ends up losing. The moral of the story is “slow and steady wins the race.”
So the other day I was looking at Facebook and saw a “sponsored video” that caught my eye. Apparently some people in China or Japan decided to test this fabled fable. They set up what looked to be a 10 yard/meter, straight track with two lanes.
In lane one was a rabbit. In lane two, a tortious. They released the two and immediately the rabbit sprinted to a commanding lead...but then the rabbit turned around and started back towards the starting line. Then turned off to the side, first to the left, then to the right.
Meanwhile, in lane two the tortious was slowly but steadily progressing towards the finish line. The rabbit was being urged on by the human handler, but was more interested in peaking over the walls on the side of the “track.”
Then, it was all over! The tortious crossed the finish line while the rabbit was still playing around at the mid point of the course.
So the fable of “The Tortious and the Hare” is not actually a work of fiction...it is true (in at least one case). So the moral of the story must also be true: “Slow and steady wins the race.”
Too often we see others “running ahead of us” in a spiritual sense and we can’t help but look at them and think, “WOW! There’s really no hope for me. All is lost.” We see them and how far and fast they are growing and think, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could do that!”
Maybe we see this on a personal level...maybe on a congregational level. We see a church that is growing by leaps and bounds. They have all manner of programs, people are at their building everyday and every night of the week doing something.
We might even envy churches like that: they are big and getting bigger (while we seem small and getting smaller). They have more people than they know what to do with (while we seem to struggle finding enough men to lead our worship assemblies without using someone twice).
But, when you investigate further, you find that those other places are preaching a “different” gospel...which is really not the gospel at all (see Galatians 1).
They want to make church “fun” and “entertaining.” No need to take up a cross and follow Jesus (see Matthew 10:38, Luke 9:23). Just come to “church” on Sunday and the rest of the week is yours!
They teach that a sinner can be saved by just saying a prayer, no need for baptism...except as a sign that you are already saved (see Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38, 22:16; Romans 6:1-14; et.al.).
We can’t afford to get distracted and take our eyes off the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). We can’t afford to run ahead and not continue in the teaching of Christ (2 John 9).
Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. We need to grow. However what some see as growth is actually not...it is them following after, perhaps, well intentioned distractions.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:14 that, “...the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life…”
Sometimes slow and steady growth is what is needed to stay on the narrow and hard way that leads to our ultimate goal.