“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24
The Olympics are coming to town! Do you think the athletes are prepared? Yes. Do you think there will be any ‘walk-ons’ (half-hearted competitors)? No. Near our home in Colorado, in Colorado Springs, is the training centre for U.S. athletes who will be competing for medals in the 2012 Olympics. One of their mottos is: ‘It’s not just every four years, it’s every day’. Their routines are strict: running faster, jumping higher, lifting more weights, painstakingly counting calories and monitoring heart rates. Striving for more speed, precision, and endurance, their focus is squarely on the prize: a gold medal.
The race Paul speaks of is of even greater importance and with a much loftier goal: life as a Christian with a reward of eternal life! While an athlete may be tempted off-course by parties, sleep, and pizzas, the distractions and temptations of a Christian are more deadly: idle gossip, laziness, skipping worship, violent or risqué movies and music, apathy. As an athlete trains and races, so must we as Christians train and discipline ourselves to finish the course which the Lord Himself has given to us. Like Paul, we have been given a ministry, to bear the message of salvation….EVERY DAY. Let’s live this ministry out loud! Pray when you arise, read the Bible, the Holy Word of God, listen to Lutheran Radio during cleaning and workouts, pray more, share the Good News with family and friends.
Through discipline and hard work, our athletes might have a chance at the Gold. As bold, repentant, and forgiven Christians, prepared through the study of God’s Word, strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit, and by the grace of God our Father, we can be sure of our prize: Eternal life with Christ in heaven. Don’t just be a ‘walk-on’ Christian.
Run the straight race through God’s good grace;
Lift up your eyes, and seek His face.
Life with its way before us lies;
Christ is the path, and Christ the prize.
(LSB 664 v. 2)