What would you think if when the sprinters lined up and gun went off, six of the athletes ran down the course straining toward the finish line, but four of them casually stood up and walked down their lane waving at the crowd, talking and laughing with one another, listening to their ipods, and passing a big greasy bag of Peanut M&M’s back and forth?
Would you be surprised and maybe even a little appalled at their brash disregard for all the Olympics means to the world? Would you wonder how they could so offhandedly disregard and neglect the great privilege they have as gifted athletes?
If you’re upset, what do you think their teammates must be feeling? What about the countries they represent? Can you imagine the disappointment of their coach, and what he might say to them after the race?
Run to Win
Whether you know it or not, this is the exact illustration the Word of God uses to remind Christians of our privilege, responsibility, and accountability as Ambassadors for Christ. Even the great Apostle Paul feared not winning his “gold medal”—the prize of hearing Christ say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” He unashamedly told the Corinthians that he was competing for the prize, running the race with all his might, constantly thinking about standing before Christ on that day. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
Are you running the race of life as a dedicated disciple of Christ, straining for every opportunity to serve Him faithfully and glorify His name? Or are you one of those Christians who are just walking along with a bag of Fritos, munching away self-indulgently as you enjoy all the privileges of grace while disregarding all the responsibility to glorify the Grace-Giver?
Everyone is Watching
The world is watching. They are making up their minds about the Kingdom and the King you represent by the way you’re running the race.
Your church is watching. A lot of your teammates are running the race to exhaustion, but every time they try to hand the baton to you—asking you to give a little to the cause of Christ, to serve somewhere in the church, to tell your friends and loved ones about Jesus—they notice that you avoid them. So they just keep running, looking for someone who will share the burdens of disciplemaking with them.
And, your Coach is watching. He’s deciding right now whether you deserve any significant assignments in His work now and if He will be justified to give you what He really wants to give you then—the eternal rewards and inheritance He prepared for you when He planned the works He would empower you and encourage you to do in His name. (Ephesians 2:10)
“Run in such a way that you might win!” –Paul, 1 Corinthians 9:24
Question: How does knowing that God prepared the works for you to do before you were born change your concept of striving for Christ?