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The Christian Race

Author: Josué Mora Peña

The Olympic Games came to an end recently in Beijing.  Several years ago, in fact the XXVII games in 2000, Time magazine called them "The Greatest Show on Earth".  The Olympics began in the Greek city of Olympia in the year 776 BC until the year 394 of the Christian era.  The Roman Emperor Theodosious I, a Christian, abolished the Olympics decrying them as a pagan ritual.  Then the games began again in the year 1,896 by the French Baron Pierre de Coubertin.
It is believed that at least 10,000 athletes from all over the world compete every four years in the Olympics, probably as many as 200 nations participate in about 300 events.  Many journalists cover all the events at different angles and at different times.  The games last approximately two weeks.  Some people call this event "The Human Race."
Their goal is to win a gold medal, something very valuable for the athletes but perishable.  During the first years of the Olympic Games no young men could compete unless he was a Greek citizen born of Greek parents.  They had hard and fast rules for the participants.  They had to deny themselves and even today, men and women who are competing do the same.  Sometimes they go to extremes to be number 1.  Some of them use some kind of stimulants (some type of drug which is illegal).  If caught, they are disqualified.
In our Bible scripture, the author of Hebrews is using the same principle that the Olympics Games had as an example of the Christian race.  We're all athletes.  We're all in this race, no exemptions.  The Christian race also has a goal: Heaven and we want to reach our goal. Contrary to the perishable goal medal of the Olympics, the Christian race will have an imperishable crown, something that will last forever.
If it is true that no man could compete in the games unless he was a Greek citizen, born of Greek parents; it is also true that no unsaved person can participate in the service of the Lord for rewards, only the ones who have been born again. John 3:3 says, "Truly, Truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." 
Just as the athletes must deny themselves many gratifications of the body, so the believer does the same.  Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.  And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.  Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible."
We said before that the Greeks had hard and fast rules for all participants, the same way the Christians have rules in the Bible that need to follow in order to qualify.  The believer must deny himself of anything that would weight him down, (Hebrews 12:1).  He needs to keep her eyes fixed on Jesus and not look to the right or to the left (Hebrews 12:2)
This happened to Peter at the Lake of Gennesaret when he walked on the water and turned his eyes off of Jesus and began drowning.  It can happen to any one of us is we neglect such a great salvation.
The believer must find his strength in the Lord, not in religion or horoscope or lottery (Ephesians 6:10-18).  We find strength when we pray and read and study God's Word, the Bible.  Contrary to the Olympic Games, in our Christian race we help each other, we encourage those who are behind in the race.  We pray for them.  We don't try to be first.  We all want to reach our goal together.
Ten Special Olympics ran in a race.  One of them, a girl, fell to the ground.  The other 9 stopped, went back and picked her up and the ten of them reached their goal.  That's the Christian race, you help each other.  In 1992 the Summer Olympic Games were held in Barcelona, Spain.  One of the runners in the 400-meter race was an English athlete named Derek Redmond.  While running, he suddenly pulled a hamstring and crumpled to the track in pain. Determined to go on, he struggled to his feet.  His father scaled the retaining wall and jumped onto the track.  Before anyone could stop him, Jim Redmond reached his son.  The young runner leaned on his father's shoulder and he staggered to complete the race.  The entire crowd stood and cheered the two men on.  When they crossed the finish line, it was as if the runner, his father, and the spectators had done it all together.  So it is with the Christian Race.

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And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

John 8:32
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