Run to Win!
I was once an Olympian…oh yes, it’s true!
I felt the rush of frigid wind in my face as I sped to gold with the 1988 Jamaican Bobsled Team.
My heart raced with Jesse Owens as he showed the world that Hitler was beyond mistaken about Aryan supremacy.
I believed in miracles as I stared at the scoreboard that read 4-3: Team USA defeats the Soviet Union in 1980.
And my spirit was immersed in pride as Michael Phelps stormed the water and earned eight gold medals in eight days.
Of course now you know that I’m not really an Olympian, right? At least not genetically, but the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat on the world’s biggest stage has always captured my imagination and captivated my thoughts. These moments and a hundred more showcases what is best in the human race – the ability to overcome limitations, odds, and just plain laziness to receive the most pure gold on the planet.
That’s why I believe that the dream of competing in the Olympics resides in all of us – don’t you think? Heck, I’ve seen Team USA gear for sale inside of Target for Pete’s sake! If given the chance, wouldn’t you don the colors and jump, run, skate, dribble, flip, or swim at the chance to make 300 million people proud?
Alas, the vast majority of us won’t… right? We are relegated to the Red Bull and Doritos’s hi def cheering section, but that doesn’t mean we can’t train, push our limits, compete, and take home a prize that will last far beyond this life:
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.
I don't know about you, but I'm running hard for the finish line. I'm giving it everything I've got. No sloppy living for me! I'm staying alert and in top condition. I'm not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
These God inspired verses were penned by the Apostle Paul over nearly 2000 years ago, and they refer to, as you probably have guessed, The Olympics!
Paul was fond of comparing the Christian life to athletic events, and the audience to whom he was writing lives in Greece, and yes, they had all been to the city of Olympia to witness the greatest athletes of their day put it all on the line for a wreath of olive leaves.
And just like us, the readers of Paul’s day would never compete in the Olympics, but they could run an even more noble race for the cause of Jesus Christ.
But it wouldn’t be easy for them, and it still isn’t easy today…
Like the Olympians, the Christian must enter into strict training. Daily prayer and devotion to God’s word make up the high performance diet. Exercising faith in all circumstances and avoiding relationships that might hinder our progress comprise our daily spiritual fitness routine.
And the competition for souls is the bottom line.
Every day you either bring people closer to Jesus Christ or you drive them away. The Christian Olympian realizes this truth, which is the motivation to ‘stay alert and in top condition’ every day!
Paul is telling us that the way to achieve excellence is to be excellent every day- day in and day out. You don’t feel like meditating on Scripture? Then meditate on Scripture! Lost your desire to pray? Then pray all the more! Afraid to share your faith? Then boldly witness to all those around you who are lost and headed to an eternity of separation from Jesus!
And when you do, rest assured that at the end of your days, you will have the same supreme confidence that dwelt within Paul as he neared the finish line:
As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6-8)
So as you engage your minds and emotions in the upcoming Olympic events, don’t lose sight of the fact that you are an Olympian as well. Overcome your limitations, odds, and just plain laziness to achieve the most pure reward in the universe.
And when you enter into the competition, focus your imagination on the face of Jesus Christ as He reaches out His nail scarred hands on Judgment Day and places an incorruptible crown on your head while proclaiming, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
Remember that you are an Olympian. You are in a race for souls in THE Cause and one day we will all receive a crown of victory or a look of disappointment from the Savior. Remember that He wants you to succeed, and He has given us everything we need to train, compete, and win the race!
Jesus, we run the race for You, and we run to win. Help us to focus each day on excellent so we can make an impact for Your Kingdom. Holy Spirit, please fill us with Your power to win the competition with ourselves.
Hebrews 12:1-2. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfected of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Life in 6 Words gospel cards. They are a great tool to hand out to people as you share the gospel with them. These cards direct viewers to the GOSPEL spoken word video by Propaganda. It is a word of truth, encouragement, and inspiration.