We are Olympic Athletes
Opening ceremonies for the 2021 Olympic games are now in the history books. Let the games begin! The schedule is HERE.
If you are a Christian, you are an Olympic athlete.
I don’t care what your weight, physical abilities, or age, we are to have the mindset of a serious athlete.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.(1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
As this Scripture makes clear, every Christian is to live the disciplined life of an athlete competing for the single prize.
Our prize is Christ.
Some would argue that since our salvation is secure in Christ, we can relax in this life. I would say, TRUE, our salvation is secure in Christ, but relax? I would say, no.
“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.” We are to be fully engaged in a relationship with Jesus. No fiddling around. In the same way Olympic athletes consider their sleep, training, diet and focused lifestyle, we are to be surrendering our hearts, obeying His word, trusting His ways, pointing others to Jesus and desperately trying to have all areas of our life honor our Savior and Lord.
What do we get?
The Olympic athletes are striving for a crown that will not last, but we get a crown that lasts forever. Like last week’s post HERE, we are not to be running aimlessly. Rather, we are to be headed straight toward the shoreline of seeing His face. Our flesh will scream at us to quit, like every athlete who trains to the limits of their bodies, and then pushes beyond.
Make our body a slave.
The idea here is that our physical body is to serve us; we don’t serve the body. The Greek for “strike a blow to my body” means to “bruise, treat severely, discipline by hardship, annoy, harass, worry, exhaust.” Philippians 2:12-13 helps us out here. As God gives us the desire and power to please Him, we are to work out our salvation, to live out what is true of us as children of God. In this way, God shines through us to all who know us.
Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do.
Lest we be disqualified.
Here is a paraphrase of THIS commentary’s explanation of being disqualified: The apostle’s concern was not that he would lose salvation, but that he should do anything that might reflect poorly on the gospel and his ministry be justly blamed. This would cause rightful disapproval by men. (Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)
If we hold back, or just kinda sorta walk with Jesus, we can be disqualified for the prize of living well for Christ. It doesn’t take much, just doing what the flesh wants instead of what God says is best. I know derailment is possible in the next hour of my life. I know that it is possible to waste some of the time God has given us to glorify His name.
Let’s stay alert!
Our salvation can remain safe while we still lose enjoying all of Jesus today, and leveraging our life fully for His glory and His Kingdom. We will all turn around once we are in heaven and see what we did with the life He gave us, and what He did. Living for the Kingdom takes intention to let God live through us instead of ourselves.
The clock is ticking.
The Olympics started this year on July 23, 2021. Athletes around the world have set their sights on this date and trained for it. Hard.
Time is to motivate Christians as well.
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12) We are not promised tomorrow. This is the reality of every person on the globe, including Christians.
So how do we each run for the prize?
Whatever good we know we ought to do, we do it. (James 4:13-17) This will be different for each of us. There is no room for comparisons or measuring in the family of God.
As we watch the Olympians receive medals this year, let’s imagine this similar moment of time in our futures. There will be a day when the race of life is over, when time on this earth has ended. We will be stripped of our sinful nature at last. We will get all of Jesus for eternity and He will have all of us, at last. There won’t be medals, but there will be crowns* and garments of righteousness (Revelation 19:8).
Let’s run for the prize — our Jesus — like an Olympic athlete.
Picture Explanation: I have lived the blood, sweat and tears of raising athletic children. It is easy to think that sports is their lives, not mine, but that is false. I, too, must exert incredible energy in His strength to make my body my slave in order to live in a way that glorifies God. My life verses tell me this is so: We proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I also labor, striving with all His energy working powerfully within me.
*1 Corinthians 9:25-27; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; 2 Timothy 4:8; James 1:12, Revelation 2:10
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