The Olympic Games is an event that is always highly anticipated worldwide. Once every 4 years, we have the opportunity to see in action the world’s finest athletes compete on the highest level, in a show of true skill and grit. From the side-lines, we can only admire the athletes’ amazing talents, and appreciate the intense preparations that they had to go through to prepare for the competition. For the rest of us, entering the Olympic Games can only happen in our wildest dreams.
Nevertheless, all of us have our own “Olympics” to run. After all, life itself is a great journey that we all need to undertake! The Bible also describes our Christian journey as an Olympic race. In order to succeed in this race of life, the Bible offers some lessons that we can learn from the Olympic athletes:
The Christian Race
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1 ESV).
The Christian journey is likened to a race. It is a long marathon, one that we need to run our entire lives! In order to succeed in this marathon, we need to run. No one can win a marathon by standing still. We need to move. The moment we became a Christian, the race has begun. Will we reach the finish line?
Since this is a long marathon, we need to have endurance. This is a race that we don’t stop running until the day we die! This will require from us a daily effort. We may be tempted to give up and stop. However, if we are to reach the finish line, we need to persevere! We can look to Jesus as an example, for despite His trial and suffering, He endured His race to the end (Hebrews 12:2).
The Christian Regime
“Every athlete exercises self-control in all things…” (1 Corinthians 9:25 ESV)
A marathon is never an easy race. The long journey itself will require much effort from us. Furthermore, there are obstacles that will hinder us from running. Satan will throw temptations our way, and his desire is for us to fall down and stop. In order to keep ourselves in shape to run, we need to undergo training. We need to observe a strict diet filled with God’s word (1 Peter 2:2). We need to keep fit by exercising a life of godliness (1 Timothy 4:8).
Furthermore, to be ready for this marathon, we need discipline. Successful Olympians are highly disciplined in their training and diet. In order to be ready to compete at the highest level, there is no room for them to indulge in wanton pleasures. Likewise, we must be disciplined in diet and training. We have to consistently nourish ourselves with God’s word, and to continually exercise our faith, if we hope to finish this marathon. As long as our race is not yet over, we cannot relax and retire!
The Christian Reward
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it” (1 Corinthians 9:24).
Seeing that much effort is needed to run this Christian marathon, why bother? We run because our eyes are on the prize. Just as Olympic athletes strive for the gold medal, we strive to obtain that reward that awaits at the end of this race. God has promised an immortal crown to those who finish this race (2 Timothy 4:6-8). This is a prize that is far more precious than any Olympic medal! (1 Corinthians 9:25). Therefore, we run, so that we may obtain immortality and eternal life (Romans 2:27).
In order to receive that ultimate prize, we must reach the finish line. There is no prize for those who give up halfway! Satan wants us to give up and stop. However, God calls for us to run, that we may obtain that crown! Hence, no matter how difficult this race is, no matter what struggles we endure, we run. We look to Jesus as an example of one who had finished His race (Hebrews 12:2). We rely on Jesus for the strength to run (Philippians 4:13). We depend on our brothers and sisters in Christ for support, as we run together towards that final goal (Galatians 6:2).