How to win a gold medal
Ready, set, go. The Rio Olympics are off and racing.
I understand that not being into the Olympics makes me a terrible human being but, still, I have found it hard to muster much enthusiasm for two weeks of super-athletes doing their thing.
Why should I throw myself into all the heats, hurdles and heart-ache? What’s the big deal about outrageously fit people running or jumping or swimming better than anyone else?
Inspired to change
The games of the XXXI Olympiad really weren’t doing it for me … until they inspired me to change my life.
The Rio Olympics have inspired me to change my life in a similar way to those training for a gold medal.
But instead of discipline and dedication aimed at Olympic glory, I’ll be training for a gold medal in my everyday life.
Care to join me?
Going for gold
About 900 years after the first Olympic games happened in Greece, a Christian leader wrote to a church in Greece about godly discipline on the track of daily living. The apostle Paul used himself as an example to motivate fellow Christians to fine-tune themselves for God’s glory.
“I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air,” wrote Paul to the church at Corinth in the 1st Century. We can read these sporting references in 1 Corinthians 9:26, but Paul wasn’t referring to sport.
He wasn’t coaching for something like Olympic gold.
Instead, he was spurring on other members of Team Jesus to model their lives on the team captain: Jesus. Paul tried hard to do just that, revealing how “I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)
Disqualified from what? From being able to “win the prize” of “a crown that will never fade away”. (1 Corinthians 9:24-25) Or to put that in a way that you and I can quickly understand: Paul doesn’t want to miss out on a “gold medal” in the game of life.
He doesn’t want to instruct others in how to achieve this “prize”, only to do or say or think stuff which will see him finish badly.
The “prize”, the “crown” — the “gold medal”, if you like — that Paul is so set upon is eternal life with God.
Quite the prize.
Unlike Olympic games or any other sporting match, none of us are competing with each other for that top prize.
Instead, we’re kinda competing within ourselves, as Paul’s warning about disqualification suggests.
Without staying focused on living fully for Jesus, we run the risk of losing the “prize” of eternal life that Jesus offers to us.
It might slip from our grasp — because we allow it to.
For like an Olympic athlete who says they want to win but then they don’t stay in training, we can say we want what Jesus offers but then we don’t dedicate our lives to living for that.
Little wonder, then, that the “gold medal” we say we want to win won’t be there at the finish line.
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