Olympic Christians

December 28, 2021

Olympic Christians

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

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 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring [it] into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

               What does it take to be a heaven class champion of the faith?  What is the difference between the athletes that play team or individual sports in school and those that compete for the Olympic gold?  We all know the difference is that one does it for recreation and exercise and the other eats, drinks and sleeps it nearly everyday of their lives for many hours everyday.  They work and work, perfecting every little movement.  They live deeply regimented and disciplined lives in order obtain the crown or the medal for which they strive.  They forsake a lot of the pleasures that their peers enjoy because they have a noble and lofty goal before them.  Paul makes the analogy that our Christian lives can be much like that.  Paul didn’t live his life just to be an average Christian; He pushed the limits of where he could go and what He could accomplish in Christ.  He didn’t do it by his own strength or abilities, but by laying hold of the power of the Christ that lived within him.  His own life or any self-interest was lost in His desire to fulfill the high calling of Christ in his life.  He wasn’t willing that he should teach and preach to others and then his own life comes up short of his ministry and teaching.  He was willing to become all things to all people, because it wasn’t about him, it was about them and the birthing and maturing of relationships with Christ in others.  He was willing, even as Christ, to lay down and pour out his own life, in whatever capacity, for the sake of saving others and ministering to the body of Christ. 

               Did that mean that Paul was a legalist?  No, Paul was probably the most liberated man of God you would find.  He had fully found His liberty in Christ, but didn’t choose to use that liberty as an occasion to fulfill personal passions or lusts, but rather he chose it for service and to bring others into their liberty and freedom in Christ. 

               Paul likened his service to Christ as that of a soldier in 2 Timothy 2:1-5, “Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of [this] life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, [yet] is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.”  Here he is exhorting Timothy as to what it takes to be a heaven class athlete.  It is all about a life lived not for one’s self, but for the One they serve.  It is about following wholeheartedly in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus Christ, so that our whole lives become a precious sacrifice and sweet-smelling incense unto His glory and the praise of His name.   Does it come without a price?  No, it cost you everything, but as Paul says in Philippians 3:7-15, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ Yea doubtless, and I count all things [but] loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them [but] dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.  Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.”  This life is but the training grounds and the race we run that we may obtain the crown wherein we become the overcomers who rule and reign with Christ.  Revelations 3:21 says, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”  Along with the exhortations to the seven churches in Revelations 3 are the promises to the overcomer.  Are we the grandstand Christians or are we the athletes that are committed to the spiritual race and competing for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus?  “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.”

Blessings,

#kent

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