The 2012 Summer Olympics are finally upon us. Many of us will watch our favorite games, participants, and players with anticipation and great expectation.
Most people, however, see track and field as the mainstay of the Olympic games. There will usually be a great deal of focus on who wins which race. The Olympics were, also, popular in Biblical times as well, especially track and field.
These are very ancient games.
In fact in First Corinthians chapter 9 and starting with verse 24, Paul uses the Olympic analogy to compare a Track race with the race of life. These verses have a particular meaning to those who minister the gospel to others on a regular basis.
Reading from the New American Standard Bible, Paul says:
(24) ‘Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.
(25)’Everyone who competes exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
(26)’Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; (27)’but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.’
Paul understands that although he is an Apostle chosen by Christ and proven by diligence and sacrifice, he is still subject to the temptations and struggles of life.
He does not see the Christian life as a ticket one receives upon salvation which leads to smooth sailing throughout life until you enter Heaven. There, in Heaven, although you lived a selfish and ungodly life, you will none-the-less be received as a great saint of God.
No, Paul suggests that salvation is the beginning of a Christian race that has to be run with “self-control,” and “discipline,” with the aim of an eternal prize in HEAVEN!
I don’t believe Paul is implying that we must earn the gift of salvation that we received by faith. Christ Jesus paid the price to give us a clean slate, a fresh start with God, new beginning, if you will.
Yet, we must keep the focus or aim of our faith on Christ and use self-control to reign-in our bodies and allow the Holy Spirit, whom we receive upon salvation, to do His work in us; guiding us step by step until we a perfected in Christ.
Wouldn’t it be better to have God leading you than just trying to figure-out life by yourself?
Paul is in essence saying that ‘because I want the high prize of Heaven, I must stay focused on my goal until the end. Because if I lose focus, although I have preached to others and won many to Christ, I can get disqualified from the Christian race like any other believer.’
This is not popular teaching, but it is true biblical teaching that must be considered!
How in the world can I deny Christ in my daily lifestyle and expect to continue in the same faith that allowed me to receive salvation in the first place?
This does not make sense!
Christianity is a daily walk and a relationship built upon fellowship with Christ.
It is Christ Jesus who will empower me, by His Spirit, as long as I yield control each day to Him. We must see that He will not take control, because He has given us a Free-will.
He must be given control!
The Apostle Paul understood that “the race is not given to the swift (the fastest) or the strong, but to those endure to the end.”
Then, comes the great prize that will last forever! A-men