Run the Race

Read: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

I love to watch the Olympics!  The training, competition, medals, and gathering of all the nations in the world is truly something to behold.  As I watched the opening ceremony recently I was thrilled to see all of the athletes walking in together in a spirit of joy and anticipation.  As one recent Iphone commercial says, “We are more alike than we are unalike.”

As I watched the swimming competition last week I was impressed by the story of Ryan Murphy.  NBC ran a story showing the drawings and books he made as a young child that showed him swimming in the Olympics and winning a gold medal.  This was a lifelong dream of his.  He trained for it, worked very hard, and it all came to fruition when he stood atop the gold medal podium and watched the U.S. flag being raised to the rafters.  He broke an Olympic record in the men’s 100 meter backstroke that night. 

Each time the Olympics roll around I am reminded of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 9.  He talks about the runners in a race.  He talks about the strict training that goes into competition.  He talks about the crown or gold medal they are working towards.  But then he compares that earthly crown to the heavenly crown of eternal life in heaven that will last forever.

Paul’s words are to remind the church at Corinth, and us, about the importance of spiritual training and exercise.  If we desire to grow in the ways of God and develop a closer walk with Jesus we must “run in such a way as to get the prize.”  Paul is speaking about the need for self-discipline in those verses but he is also encouraging spiritual growth as well.  

We are not saved by our works or by our deeds.  We are saved by the grace of Jesus.  But being saved by Christ should encourage us to live for him, grow in him, and make him the Lord of our life.  Ultimately this is what Paul is encouraging in these verses.  It encourages us to ask how we can make that happen in our lives.  Is it a time of daily prayer and devotions?  Is it devoting more time to loving neighbors and friends?  Is it being more committed to regular church attendance?  Or is it something else that the Lord is speaking to you about?

I admire the time, commitment, training, and effort that all of these olympic athletes put in.  Congratulations to all of them.  I know that I will never stand on one of those Olympic podiums, but even better than that would be to stand at the doors of heaven and hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  I hope the same for you as well!  That will be better than any color of medal hanging around our neck.  

Make it personal:  How can you grow spiritually?  That is the big question of this week’s meditation and scripture passage.  I would encourage you to make this a matter of prayer and listen to what the Holy Spirit speaks into your heart.  Be ready to make changes if that is what is needed.  But most of all be ready to see your spiritual life grow and your relationship with Jesus become stronger than ever.

Have a blessed week,  Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church