Nineteen years ago this November, I ran the “Let’s Get Dirty” 5K race in my hometown of Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. Cold and muddy, it was more the kind of race you’d run for adventure’s sake than for serious competition. This was apparent from how some of the runners dressed. One guy wore a white dress suit. I don’t think he had hopes of breaking any records. Running in something you’d wear for a wedding probably isn’t the best strategy for running well.
In the Book of Hebrews, after recounting the heroes of the faith, the author exhorts us to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1). To run well, we must unencumber ourselves. With this charge following right on the heels of faithful examples, it would make sense for the sin of faithlessness to be in view (573).
In The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan portrays the Christian race as an adventure. Along his journey, the protagonist tells of a man named Little-Faith, who was robbed at clubpoint by three brothers—Faint-Heart, Mistrust, and Guilt. Little-Faith lost his money, which is symbolic of the Christian’s present joy. Yet Little-Faith managed to hold onto his jewels, which are symbolic of the Christian’s promised inheritance. A genuine believer, he couldn’t have lost his riches in Christ. But in this allegory, Little-Faith is poorly prepared for his journey. He is counted among the “ye of little faith” (Matt. 8:26) and, therefore, ill-equipped to run his race well.
Our high school study, The Christian Adventure, is written to build up students in their faith. This 35-lesson curriculum is designed to walk ninth, tenth, and eleventh graders through the adventure and biblical principles taught in Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. They will learn from both the Bible and Christian’s allegorical example how to run to look to Jesus in faith in order to run that race set before us (see Heb. 12:2).