Run for the Prize
‘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.’
(1 Corinthians 9.24)
The Tokyo Olympic games really caught the imagination in our house. Perhaps you were glued to the TV too, watching your favourite sporting event this July. Things like gymnastics or diving or athletics only seem to appeal at the time of an Olympic Games and yet they are highly impressive and entertaining. Once seen, who could forget Max Whitlock’s gold medal winning routine on the pommel horse?
The apostle Paul knew about the ancient Olympic Games and other smaller Games, one of which was held in Corinth. So when he encourages the Christians in Corinth (above) to run the race in such a way as to get the prize, the Corinthians would have been familiar with his imagery. Living the Christian life requires determination, dedication and whole-hearted commitment to God. It is like an Olympic runner, capitalising on all his training, single-mindedly working his way round the track, straining towards the finish line. A Christian, having placed his trust in Christ at the start of his race, runs determinedly for God, until he receives his prize of heaven at the end of his life.
Olympic swimmers too are involved in racing, of course. Sometimes they are part of a relay squad; sometimes simply as individual athletes. The training they have to do is hard to comprehend. Months and years of (usually) early mornings in the pool so as they can achieve their dream of winning gold at the Olympics. You will find a short article about the champion swimmer Caleb Dressel in this edition of the Breda Messenger. He is a Christian who is happy to share his faith while he is currently in the spotlight for winning so many gold medals. The way he speaks about his Christian faith puts his sporting achievements in perspective.
Yes, the Olympics can remind us of the Christian life. Just as athletes train resolutely for years so they can enjoy sporting success, so believers commit themselves to God, in prayer, Bible reading, church attendance, and sharing their faith, in order that they will eventually receive their reward from Christ at the end of the race. And while Olympic glory is something to be celebrated, the Christian life is even better. ‘For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come’ (1 Timothy 4.8).
Let’s remember to run a godly, Christian race – and to keep running right to the end.
Sincerely in Christ