The Bare Soul - September 23, 2007
Company We Keep

A year or so after I started barefoot running, I started a Yahoo! Discussion Board Forum. This was meant as a place to talk about barefoot running, post questions, talk about daily runs, and most notably about weekly barefoot mileage. The board grew in participants, mainly those who I call "bean counters" such as myself who are maybe just a little too anal about counting our weekly mileage down to the hundredth of a mile. Well, it has been a great tool to share our mileage and to also encourage each other to possibly that next plateau of barefoot mileage.

 When I started writing the The Bare Soul earlier this year, there was a certain "bean counter" who took great exception to my "religious" bent, as he called it. He could not understand how I was so gullible to believe this "nonsense" about God. He went on to say that he could no longer participate in our weekly bean counting because he did not want anyone to think of him -- an avowed atheist -- as being associated in any way with a Christian and someone who believed in this spiritual mumbo-jumbo. He told me, with perceived pride, that he quit believing in God about the same time he quit believing in Santa Claus. I told him that I did not mind being associated with an atheist if he didn't mind being associated with a Christian. His response was "thanks but no thanks".

I felt sad for him and have continued to pray that he would see otherwise. It made me reflect on the Lord Jesus and how He encountered so many different personalities throughout the gospels, yet did not shy away from cavorting with many to the chagrin of the religious personalities of the day. It's not like Jesus probably wanted to hang out with sinners for the sake of "hanging out". This is the Man-God who had dwelt in God the Father's holy presence and was used to the infinite love and joy of the Shekinah Glory. I believe that his overwhelming and infinite love that He had for humankind sent him as a shepherd looking for lost sheep with a deep compassion and longing for their redemption. This was the very thing that the Pharisees could not understand, because they were themselves devoid of any such love and compassion. Even in their hardness of heart, they knew that Jesus was right in his pursuit of sinners yet they were too stiff-necked to acknowledge their own evil.

However, the important thing to understand about the Lord Jesus is that He was in this world but yet not a part of it. Personally, I can usually spend a few minutes with someone and tell how much they are of this world or the world to come. Are they looking, grasping, seeking for what they can get from this level of existence, or are they looking for something more substantial and eternal? It all comes down to what kind of fragrance they are omitting -- a fragrance of Christ that is bringing forth life or one of selfishness and self-centeredness that cares nothing about their fellow man and has the smell of death.

The company I keep today is generally two-fold: I "hang" with those who I trust and enjoy their friendship in Christian love. These are people who I seek to be  refreshed in the Lord. And there are the others -- those for whom my heart aches and I feel shortness of breath when praying for them because of God's love. Believe me, in and of myself, I don't have this type of love for people. However, when the Lord is able to move on my heart then I know it is Him working through me. The company I keep, today, is the company that I desire to live with in eternity. My friends and confidantes are already in that heavenly camp. I seek and desire for others I am acquainted with to join that celestial band.

Your Humble Barefoot Servant!

Barefoot Rick

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