If you are a sport lover, then this summer has plenty to excite you: International Cricket, Euro 2012, Wimbledon, the London 2012 Olympics and much more. There is surely an event for everyone and no doubt plenty of controversy to be debated on TV and in the pub! There will be winners and losers, medallists and also-rans. Each of them will have trained hard, often for many years with this summer in mind. They have considered the effort worthwhile in the hope that they will win gold. Yet even for those who achieve their ambitions, there will be another championship with new challengers and new winners; their moment of glory will fade over the years to a private memory.
Being a Roman citizen, Paul was familiar with the ancient Olympic Games and its cousin, the Isthmian Games in Corinth. It would have been with these latter games in mind that he wrote to the Corinthians: You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. (1 Corinthians 9:24-25 The Message) Paul understood that being a follower of Jesus is hard and requires stamina and determination to keep going. His motivation for persevering was the assurance that he would win an eternal reward from God. There are plenty of worthwhile goals that we can have during our lives, yet ultimately these are all temporary. There is only one goal that has real permanence and that is to live a life devoted to Christ in order to win the crown of eternal life that he offers.
I hope that you will enjoy the summer of sport. As you watch the trophies being held aloft and the medals being presented on the podium, take a moment to pause and reflect. Will you, like Paul, receive a winner’s prize when you stand before God or will everything that you have given your life to fade away and become simply a pale memory in the hearts of those you leave behind?
This blog post featured in the July / August 2012 edition of Hook Focus