Home Pastor's Corner . Going for Gold

. Going for Gold

GOING FOR GOLD

–1 Corinthians 9:24-25, ESV–

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable."

 

 

It is the year 2012 and as I write this article the Olympic Games are in full swing in London. Even some of our South Africans are doing us proud by bringing home Golden medals. Just today Oscar Pistorius became the first double amputee to ever run at the Olympic. Not only did he come second, but he now proceeds to the semi-finals. I take my hat off to Oscar who is widely known as the Blade runner as he runs on two blades which serve as his legs.  I am confident that Oscar has a relentless training programme to achieve that which many of us can only dream of.

Games like the Olympic Games are not foreign to Paul. The ancient Greeks had the Olympic Games and the Isthmian Games. The Isthmian games were actually held in Corinth, so Paul’s audience would have been very familiar with it. Contestants were involved in rigorous practice for about 10 months before the time. The last month they would spend in Corinth. The winner would be awarded with a wreath made from Bay leaves placed on his head. I cannot comment on the Isthmian games but in the original Olympic games there were not many winners, therefore to win was filled with major glory. For the first thirteen Olympiads, there was only one event and therefore only one winner. Even after the number of events grew, only the first place finisher for each event was considered a victor. There were no silver or bronze medals like today. Coming in second or third place counted for nothing and were not even recorded. In the event of a draw, the crown was dedicated to the god. Such was the pressure to win that some athletes prayed for either victory or death.

And so Paul uses the physical race as a departure point to discuss the spiritual race. Paul says that all the runners run, but only one gets the prize. The reality is this that every Christian who pays the price of harsh training and Christian discipline can be a winner. This message is for all believers, exercise, endure, endure hardship, overcome the stumbling blocks, fight against sin, cast off the load that hinders you, cry before God with tears desiring victory, fix your eyes on the goal towards which God has called you heavenward in Christ Jesus, urge your fellow believers to do the same, and as for you, do not tire in doing what is right.

It’s interesting how strenuously people train for the Olympics nowadays, which I guess is not very different to the Isthmian and Olympic games of old… all for a perishable crown and a few years of glory and hero status! Take note of some observations John Troup made about what it takes to even make an appearance in the Olympics:

  • - The average Olympian trains four hours a day at least 310 days a year for six years before succeeding.
  • - By 7:00 a.m. most athletes have done more than many people do all day.
  • - The four years before an Olympics, Greg Louganis probably practiced each of his dives 3,000 times.
  • - Kim Zmeskal has probably done every flip in her gymnastics routine at least 20,000 times.
  • - Janet Evans has completed more than 240,000 laps.
  • - Swimmers train an average of 10 miles a day, at speeds of 5 mph in the pool.
  • - Marathon runners average 160 miles a week at 10 mph.

If the Olympic and Isthmian athletes exercised such great discipline and self-control in all things, why cannot Christians? They do this for a few moments of fame, why cannot the believer labour even a fraction as much for his Saviour, and the salvation of the perishing world?

Take Paul’s advice and get serious about running the Christian race. Run the race as if only one person was to win, and that person was you.

“Saints are sinners who kept on going.” - Robert Louis Stevenson
Join Hillsong with their lively song that challenges you to keep on running without stopping, as you strive for all that God can mean to you.