The Christian RaceAuthor: Josué Mora Peña
A few months ago we watched the Winter Olympics that took place in Turin, Italy. All the athletes who took part in these games are people who have trained for years in order to finish the race. They want to be number One. I still remember the Summer Olympics of 2000, the games of the XXVII Olympiad, as Time Magazine called it, "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. Then the Roman Emperor Theodosious I, a Christian, abolished the games, decrying them as a pagan ritual, but in 1896, the games began again by the French Baron Pierre de Coubertin.
Thousands of people attend these games. They come from many nations and compete in different events. Some magazines have called the Olympics "The Human Race". Their goal? To win a gold medal, something very valuable for the athletes
During the first years of the Olympics, no young man 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 of many things and even today men and women do the same. Sometimes they go to the extremes to be number one. Some even use stimulants (some type of drugs which are illegal). If caught, they are disqualified.
In I Corinthians chapter 9, verses 24-27 we read, "Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? So run in such a way that you may win it. Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air, but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified." (New Revised Standard Version). Here Paul is using the Greek Olympics as an example of the Christian race. Were all athletes. Were all competing in life. Were all in a race...the Christian race. Our goal? Heaven and we want to get there when the time comes, but unlike the Olympic Games, we run for an imperishable wreath, something that will last forever.
If it is true, and I believe it is, that no man could contend 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 services of the Lord in order to get a reward. Only the ones who have been born again, born of the Spirit of God are eligible to run this race. In John 3:3 Jesus said to Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews, "
Very truly, I tell you, no one can seek the kingdom of God without being born from above." In todays games, just as the athletes denied themselves many gratifications of the body, so the believer must say, "I punish my body and slave it"" (I Corinthians 9:27). If we dont do that, we might become disqualified. Even Paul said that of himself. Hes not talking about loosing his salvation, he was sure in Gods hands, he was talking about loosing his reward if he did not continue in the Christian race.
I like what the Book of Hebrews says in chapter 12, verse 1, "therefore, since we have so great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us." Every believer must keep his eyes fixed on Jesus and not look to the right or to the left according to Hebrews 12:2, just as the person who runs in any race needs to keep his eyes on the goal. When a Christian stops looking at the eyes of Jesus Christ, something bad happens. Peter experienced it when he asked Jesus if he could go to Him walking on the waters of the Sea of Galielee. He was doing OK until he turned his face away from Jesus that he began to sink. It can happen to us too. It has happened to those who have neglected such a great salvation, those who take Christianity very lightly. Hebrews 2:3 says, "how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;
The believer must find his strength in the Lord. It is not in religion or the horoscope, or the lottery. We find the strength in God. Please read Ephesians 6:10-18 and by doing what these verses say, we will have all the power necessary to live the victorious Christian Life. We become stronger Christians with faith when we read and study the Scriptures; when we pray daily to God; when we get involved in Gods work. The Christian must refuse by faith anything that would impede his spiritual progress. In one of the churches where I pastured in California, I buried a man who had joined a secret organization. Eventually he left the church and gave all his time to that organization. The Bible tells us to put aside, to refuse, to forget whatever hinders our spiritual growth. Thats the only way that we can reach our goal.
Contrary to the Olympic Games, in our Christian race we help each other. We dont try to reach our goal forgetting those who are also running with us or behind us. In the secular games, if somebody falls or is disqualified, it is less competition to the opponent. In the Christian race, if somebody falls or gets behind, we help that person. I read in one of the "Our Daily Bread" magazines the following, "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. He had trained for years to compete in the Olympics. But while sprinting in a qualifying heat, he suddenly pulled a hamstring and crumpled to the track in pain. Determined to go on, Derek struggled to his feet. He was hobbling toward the finish line when 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 fathers shoulder as 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 together."
How are you doing in your Christian race? Are you helping those who are behind you? Or, like in the Olympic Games, you let them struggle for themselves and you dont care if they make it or not? I remember something that I read about 10 Special Olympics. The race started and the ten of them gave it all they had. One of them fell to the ground. The other nine stopped, looked back and returned to help the one who has fallen. The 10 of them reached their goal at the same time. All of them won. Thats the believers race. You dont want to reach your goal---heaven, by yourself. You want to get there with as many people as possible. Make sure of your salvation. Make sure your family is ready to meet the Lord in the air. Make sure none of your friends will be left behind. You, as a Christian, are a good runner. Dont be a Christian spectator. Help those who need you. God bless you and yours.