Thursday, July 26, 2012

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.


Anonymous said...

This blog post was quite enjoyable. Amen. Thankyou Lord for companions. May we each day keep our eyes on the prize...on Christ Himself! :)

Todd Bringhurst said...

Leon, I enjoyed your post very much. The Christian life surely is a race, and I for sure would not have even gotten on the course without some care, and prayer, and encouragement from others. In fact, a really encouraging verse that goes along with this theme as you mentioned is Heb. 12:1 " Therefore let us also, having so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, put away every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us and run with endurance the race which is set before us," It is very encouraging to realize3 that there is quite an audience cheering us on. Sail on Leon!

Anonymous said...

Wow, running is such a good picture of Christian life. And, we run best when we have companions. Even when I am out hiking alone, if someone passes me on the trail, I keep up with that person as long as I can; the person pulls me along. Lord, may we encourage one another in Your race.

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