REDEEMED RUNNERS (Olympic Lessons 1) 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
From the time of Adam and Eve people have been running and jumping. Elijah ran to Jezebel after the prophets of Baal were defeated (1 Kings 18:46). Peter and John ran to the empty tomb (John 20:4). Phillip ran alongside the Ethiopian’s chariot (Acts 8:30). Everyone knows what running is and, unless there is a physical handicap, everyone has run sometime during their life.
Being naturally competitive, people have been trying to see who is the fastest and strongest from the beginning. This summer we will have the 2021 Olympics in Japan. However, the Olympics started long ago. The first recorded Olympics were held during the time of Isaiah and Hosea, but historians say they started long before that, during the time of Joshua. During the time of Paul and the early church, the Olympics were as well-known as they are today. In his writings, Paul uses athletic competition as a way of describing the Christian life. Paul was probably involved in athletic contests when he was a young man. He certainly was interested in them and used them as analogies in many of his writings. This series of blogs will look at them and the lessons they teach us about living the Christian life.
In I Corinthians 9:24, Paul writes: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?” Most of the readers had attended athletic competitions, probably some were at the Olympics in Greece for it was held near where these reader lived in Corinth. The city of Corinth itself hosted the Isthmian games every two years, which was second only to the Olympics themselves. Herod built a large amphitheater in Jerusalem where similar competitions were held. Foot races of various distances were the oldest and most popular competition. Wrestling, boxing and racing chariots and horses were also common.
Paul quickly gets right to his main point: “Run in such a way as to get the prize.” The Christian life is equated to a foot race because both have a goal in mind, something to attain. Runners compete with other runners to come in first. Similarly, Christians compete with themselves to overcome their self-centered, sinful ways and become more like Jesus. When we live a faithful life for Jesus, we will receive a prize – the crown of life (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10).
It takes strict training and discipline to do your best as an athlete, and as a Christian. “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training” (1 Corinthians 9:25). In the early Olympics, contestants were required to prove to the judges they were of Greek citizens in good standing and had undergone 10 months of training. We qualify for our Christian race by becoming citizens of heaven by regeneration (John 3:2, 7). Only born-again believers in Jesus Christ can be eligible to become more Christlike. Paul is pointing out that it takes complete self-discipline and focused concentration to live an authentic life becoming more and more like Jesus.
How serious are you about running your Christian life? If an athlete trained at their sport like you work at living a Christ-like life, how would they do? Where do you need to step up your training program today?
cto Rev. Dr. JERRY SCHMOYER
Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)
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