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Posted | 11 comments

Let the Games Begin

Let the Games Begin

In a few weeks, all the hoopla that once was the London Olympics will be but a dim, distant memory.  It’s back to the grind for all of us after a welcome distraction. We may give the stunning gold-medal performances of some, a passing thought from time to time, but … you know how it goes.

So would it surprise you to know that for anyone who calls themselves a Christ-follower, there is a call in God’s Word to be, in effect, a “gold medal Christian”?  

Now that’s an idea that sounds completely foreign to the Gospel of grace doesn’t it? Well, it’s in the Bible so here it is:

Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? 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. (1 Cor 9:24-27)

So there it is. The Apostle Paul who wrote that is alluding to the Isthmian Games – as well known to the Corinthians, as the Olympics are to you and me. And here is, in effect, what he’s saying:

You know all the sacrifices, all the training, all the disappointments and injuries, all the physical and mental pain that athletes go through to win a crummy wreath (or medal)? All the self-control? The focus? The dietary disciplines? All that stuff? Well, that’s the life that we’re called to. They do it for a small reward on this earth. We do it for a much greater reward.

At first blush, does that strike you as being somehow … anti-grace? Does that feel as though we’re heading back to the oppression of living under a bunch of rules again?  

My hunch is that for some, it does.

And yet here it is – written by the man who argued so strongly against submitting once more to the law, and falling under the curse of legalism.

So why is it here, in the New Testament and what does it mean for you and me, here and now?

It’s easy for us to equate “grace” with the idea of “taking it easy”. Relax. God’s done it all. We don’t have to exert ourselves. But right here, God’s telling us the complete opposite – not in terms of our salvation, but in terms of our response.

Anyone who has truly experienced the good news – the gospel – in their hearts, anyone who has the Spirit of Christ in them … is going to have a response. A heart response. A response that says  I can’t just sit here and warm a pew. I have to do something about this. I have to tell people. I have to use who I am and what I have to get this good news out there.

And that is exactly what Paul is saying here – with everything you are, with everything you have, with every breath and fibre of your being, with every ounce of energy you have, proclaim the Gospel.

In the verses just before this bit about the Isthmian games, Paul tells us why he’s behaving this way:

I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings. (1 Cor 9:22,23)

For the sake of the Gospel. For the sake of letting all people, everywhere, know about Jesus.

Of course – in our giftings and abilities to do that, we’re all different. Some are long distance runners, while others are sprinters. Some are weightlifters, while others are gymnasts. But whoever we are, whatever our gifting and passion … we’re each called to do it all for the sake of the Gospel – with everything that it takes to win a gold medal.

So … let the games begin …


  1. I once read in an esoteric piece, there is “no prize” just the love in you heart.

    I dont know sometimes? I dont want to be part of any talk that there is some sort of reward at thye end of it all. It sometimes effects what the pop goss is being mindfull and living in the momment!

    By focusing on and end, especially if there are rules that you must follow to meet the end goal then maybe you are not free at least to do what you want.

    Wellthe apostle Paul says you were bought with a high price you lives are not your own. So if that is clear then you understand that you must follow the rules of the one who said this

  2. Yeah Bernie! It is still our choice to “Fight a good fight” – Paul. Knowing full well that
    Jesus is with us, He knows “the way” because He’s been there.

  3. I think each one of us runs our race with god differently, mostly in our own time and way.

    There is a compelling argument not only to get with it and get will it as soon as possible… but also to get it that your not doing it for yourself but instead for the kingdom as defined by jesus.

    In John 1:1 ” In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”

    I don’t know where some of us here are at but in my understanding of john he is refering to jesus as the creator

    Jesus created this world for himself and for his glory if we take john into account with genisis.

    The father in my understanding was a by-stander in creation but of course part of the trinity god head.

    An other way to say this is if you have a father as the boss he commands the work is done but most of the work itself is done by the son.

    So jesus created the world for himself and also the father and also for us!… so we could be part of his glory and so we could live forever in his and his fathers presence.

    Of course getting back to how run the race…

    It has been said that the father can not look at us in his glory our sinful and deprived nature and also if we saw the father in his purest state that we could not handle his light and glory and would instantly perish.

    So jesus is the go to man sent to us in human form in a plan hatched from the begging of time knowing that we would sin and would need to be saved

    Jesus never died as a god and as a god could not die. However we die thats a fact and so we can never be in the presence of god forever if we a dead unless ther is another way

    If we believe that in fact we were created to live forever in gods glory and were subsequently decieved and accept jesus as our savior.

    Then thats an acceptable way for god to turn a blind eye so to speak to the sin of disobedince that otherwise could not be forgiven.

    But a lot is at stake here:

    1. We believe in jesus and live our lives according to his teaching and are saved
    and will live forever in the presense of god come time. Also we have or do not have peace in this life but thats ok either way becuase of the final prize

    2. We believe in jesus and he is not god and so we live ourlives in false hope and are hammered from side ro side becuase it is not the truth and we were never going to liver forever

    3. Jesus is a morning star or fallen angle or lucifer and by declaring himself as god we have believe the lies and the contradiction in the bible which has double meaning leaves this world as it is decieve and in caos. The fact being there is a god but he never was in human form. So worshipping jesus is worshipping and idol

    4. There is no god and some how everying evovled and by barking up the wrong tree we live in a delusion that the atheists are not concearned with and live life for the momment. Worrying or not Worrying… Doing or Not Doing

    5. We all have free will with or with out god

    6. If we were creeated in the image of god we are allready fully evovled

    7. If we came from the monkey what will we evovle to

    8. Take you pick

  4. Thanks Bernie……..God Bless You.

  5. Who needs a medal??? You dont if you follow Jesus.. If you follow Jesus you are a winner.

  6. How great that we have a coach like Jesus who is running the race with us. Every step we take he is lifting us along, if we continue to position ourselves in a way that he can work. How we must be sensitive to the coaches instruction and obey his words.For me, I must discipline myself to continue to be in position for him to work and push hard when he instructs and continue to maintain consistency when he tells me.This I find very difficult. He is the vine that produces fruit through us, the branches. All my efforts amount to nothing without the Holy Spirits Amazing power .May God Bless you all that have commented, how awesome it is that we can freely share our walk with each other. Thank you Berni.

  7. “And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” Tim2.2:5

  8. A timely reminder to exercise everyday in the word of God, read the gospels and try hard to be how Jesus wants me to be: loyal, loving and loved. I’m not even up to the bronze medal standard, but I hope to improve my relationship with Christ Jesus every day, I fall down some days,(well a few) but the Holy Spirit nudges me back up and I think that is what God wants as we strive everyday to show our love for Him not always in works but always by faith.

    • Thanks for your comments Faye. I believe God is more interested in our heart towards ourselves, him and others than a perfect performance. I have found that when I receive a revelation of how much God loves me, or is patience/compassionate with me, then out of my heart flows actions in that area that reflect my gratitude to God for knowing Him and accepting me for where I’m at. God bless you deeply today.

  9. As much as we try to fix our eyes of Jesus, ready and willing to serve Him, I am reminded also of how often we fall short of this goal, but as we grow in Him who strengthens us, and like anyone who is running the race, we get up and with the Grace of God we continue the race without any condemnation but as God as our cheer person. How awesome is that.

  10. Hi Berni, yes I agree with your posting we must run the race with our eyes fixed on Jesus, ready to serve him with our heart and best of our abilities, and to reach out to others with his love and to look for opportunities to share the gospel. We are blessed to know our riches and gold are found in a relationship with Christ.

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