For two weeks in September, 2000, the world’s best athletes competed in Sydney, Australia in the 27th Olympiad. World and Olympic records were shattered as they strove to win after years of preparation and training. Training that consumed most of their waking hours during the four years before the Olympics. We saw the joy and tears as they would cross that finish line or break a record. We saw the agony of defeat and felt for those who had trained so hard and yet came up short.
One image that will stay in my mind forever was that of Canada’s Simon Whitfield winning the men’s triathlon. He was at least 500 metres behind the leader as they approached the finish line. He looked as if he was down and out and would have to settle for the silver medal. But all of a sudden it was if he had rockets on his feet. He found his second wind and overtook the leader to take the gold. It was his months of training and discipline that allowed him to do this.
During Paul’s time the Olympics were held in Greece every four years and there is a pretty good chance Paul got to see these games. He sent a letter to the church in Corinth using terms they could understand. He compared the Christian walk to a race.
"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize exercises self-control in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus not with uncertainty. Thus I fight not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." 1Corinthians 9:24-27
An athlete during Paul’s time had to have trained for 10 months at least before he could compete. If it was found out that he had not trained, he would be disqualified and shame was brought to his home town. Paul compares our walk to that of an athlete. We must train and discipline ourselves through reading God’s word and praying.
2Timothy 2:5 says, "If anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules." This applies to the Christian as well. We must follow the word of God, not comprising His truths. We must put aside the things of this world that would keep us from attaining the goals He has set for us. Let us fly as high as the eagle with God’s Spirit, be quick at hearing God’s word and declare ourselves as more than conquerors through Christ Jesus our Lord. Higher, Faster, Stronger.
Part 5 of the series Who Is Jesus? will be posted on Monday. Have a great weekend!