Thursday, July 26, 2012 3 comments

The Christian Life is a Race

Let the games begin!

The Olympics are right around the corner and the entire world is abuzz. This quadrennial event is especially exciting for track fans. Even though it's been more than a year since I hung up my distance running spikes, I still have an intense passion for the world's oldest sport. Running fans are few and far between, but nothing unites us quite like the Olympics. The Olympics are track's opportunity to shine on the big stage that is typically hogged by basketball, baseball, and football.

No court or field can compare to the purity of the 400 meter oval. This is entirely my opinion, but I believe that the Bible backs it up.

In his second epistle to Timothy, Paul compares the Christian life to that of an athlete (2 Tim. 2:5). Here Paul was not speaking about shooting three-pointers or catching touchdowns. Based on his other writings, Paul was almost certainly drawing similarities between living the Christian life and running a race.

So, what are the similarities?

Before starting a race, it's a good idea to know the distance of the course. According to Hebrews 12:1-2, the race set before us requires endurance. The Christian life is more like a marathon than a sprint.

Running can be a casual activity, but in races like the Olympics with prizes involved, competitors get quite serious. 1 Corinthians 9:24 tells us that this is the way we should treat the Christian life as if running after a prize. There is no room for passive getting-into-shape jogging. We must pursue after our prize, which is Christ Himself, with the dedication and consistency of a world-class runner.

Unfortunately, in a race there can be hindrances, anything from losing a shoe to tripping over another competitor. Similarly, in the Christian race there can be hindrances, primarily from God's enemy. In Galatians 5:7, Paul laments that the Galatians, who were running well, had been hindered. Certainly the source of this hindrance was Satan.

Near the end of his life, Paul was able to say in faith that he had finished his race as a Christian (2 Timothy 4:7). By the Lord's mercy, we will be able to say the same thing in the twilight of our lives.

As you can see, Paul touched on the concept of the Christian life being a race often throughout his writings. I  would like to supplement his thoughts with one of my own from my experience as a competitive runner. I always, without fail, was able to push myself harder through workouts and races when I had others running with me. The mentality of the pack says, "If he can do it, I can do it." In the Christian race, we need companions to keep us running and pushing forward as well.

So when you turn on the TV next week and watch race after race on the track in London, don't forget that your life as a Christian is a race as well.
Sunday, July 8, 2012 6 comments

A Prepositional Comparison of the Old and New Testaments

Prepositions, though short, are some of the most important words in the English language. Modifying a single preposition can drastically change a sentence. Just imagine telling your friend to meet on your house instead of in your house.

Recently, I watched a video from a Christian conference held in Anaheim, California. One of the points from the message utilized the modification of a single preposition to cleanly compare the Old and New Testaments. Understanding the difference between the two testaments is crucial for any young, Bible-believing Christian.

Here it is:

The history of God with man is found in the Old Testament. The history of God in man is found in the New Testament.

This guy is thinking about what I just said. You should think about it some more, too.
In the Old Testament, God was there with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, even appearing to wrestle with Jacob. As the pillar of fire and the pillar of cloud, He was with Moses and the children of Israel fleeing from Egypt. He was also there in the tabernacle and eventually the temple, dwelling with the children of Israel. Through the many failures of their kings and the period of captivity in Babylon, God remained with His people, faithful to restore them.

Yet all this time, with was the best God could do. It wasn't until the New Testament that with could become in.

The age of the New Testament was the result of a fundamental shift in the way God interacted with man. No longer was He limited to helping man outwardly, but he could actually enter into man as the Spirit.

The history of God in man started with Jesus Christ, who said that the Father was in Him (John 10:38) and that the Father dwelt in Him (John 14:10).

Through Jesus' death and resurrection, the way was paved for God to enter into more people. The history of God in man has continued through the apostles and countless other Christians. In 2 Corinthians 13:5, the apostle Paul asked the Corinthian believers, "Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?"

Thank God that now He can be not only with us, but also in us!