I hope you have been enjoying watching the Olympics. I have great admiration for the dedication of these athletes who have focused huge effort and energy into their training over a period of years leading up to the games. They have sacrificed a great deal in order to be physically at their peak at just the right time. In the elation of winning a medal they say things like “It was worth it!” When they lose the disappointment is sometimes written all over their faces, no matter what they say. They may count it a privilege to take part, but there can be no doubt that for them taking part is not enough: they are in it to win!
Run to win!
Athletic contests were a regular part of life in Greek and Roman times, and Paul the apostle often uses them as examples in his letters. His readers would have been used to seeing athletes in training. In 1 Corinthians 9vv24-27 he tells them to run the race of life so as to win. Then, as now, strict training was the key to success in the contests. It meant working hard, saying no to all kinds of distractions and entertainments and staying focused on their goal. What about us? Are we saying no to things that will hinder us in our training to run the race with Jesus? Paul told Timothy “Train yourself to be godly.” Energy, effort, determination and focus are required to run this race. The prize in the Greek games was a wreath of pine leaves. Nowadays it is a gold medal. Both symbolize recognition and glory in this world. Our prize is glory in the world to come. Even gold will eventually perish. The greatest medal winners will one day be forgotten. But our prize is imperishable. It will never fade away. One day we shall say, just like the medal winners of today “It was worth it!” Let’s run to win!
…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12v1-2(ESV)
Yours in Christ,
Ian Thompson (Acting pastor)