Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.
1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (NKJV)
When the Olympics were held this year in Tokyo, I had a vague idea that they had originated in Greece. Through an online search I found that the Olympic Games were part of a festival in honour of the Greek god Zeus. The earliest recorded Games were in 776 BC, although they were much older than this. Much later again, they came back to Athens in 1896; the Olympic Torch was introduced in Amsterdam in 1928. In Tokyo this year, the closing ceremony brought things to an end, and the baton will now move on to Paris in 2024.
There are lessons we can learn from the Games. All the participants in Tokyo had fully prepared to compete; after years of training to be in peak condition, these were the cream of fittest individuals. Their aim was to obtain a medal; gold, or silver would be good; bronze would not be too bad.
The apostle Paul had some of these things in mind in his writing in 1 Corinthians 9:25, and also in 2 Timothy 4:7-8 where Paul wrote, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.’ Paul pressed toward the goal, for the prize of that crown. For Christians, the race is a spiritual race; we train to be in peak condition spiritually.
In the Olympic Games only three receive medals, and there is keen competition. We Christians run not to compete with others but to obtain our own crown of glory! We run and endure to the very end, to our last breath, fixing our eyes on Jesus Christ.
In Hebrews 12:1-2 we read more about this spiritual race: ‘…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’
As well as the glory of the Olympic Games, we can sometimes see politics and pride in the desire to accumulate the most number of medals. In Christian community, we race in peace and unity and love. Our crown is imperishable. Let us encourage each other to finish the race and give honour to God, our Father.
Abba Father, thank you for the part we have in running the race of life to receive our crown. In Jesus’ name I pray and praise you. Amen.
Study by Natu Moti
About the writer:
Natu Moti is a Deacon in the Birmingham congregation of Grace Communion International.
All Saints Church
Birmingham B23 7QB
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