"If anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules." (2 Timothy 2:5).
With the Summer Olympics moving fast towards the Closing Ceremonies, and our minds reeling with the stunning achievements of all those who have competed according to the rules and been given the victor's crown -- a thought occurred to me that much of this parallels our Faith journey with Jesus.
And just like the remarkable athletes who astound us with their discipline, dedication, and determination -- we also should give such an Olympian commitment to Christ that others are equally moved by the excellence and beauty of our endeavors.
When Paul wrote of the athlete who competes, the word he used literally means "to be a champion" -- one who has defeated all opponents. As followers of Jesus we are called to conduct ourselves as champions, to stand in the power given to us in Christ and defeat anything that tries to make us less than what God wants us to be. Over the next five days, I will point out the five facts of our Olympic championship in Life.
Fact #1 -- There is a Contest in Which We Struggle - Luke 13:24
"Jesus said to them, 'Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.'" (Luke 13:24).
As Champions, we are to cast aside anything that would hold us back; overcome any obstacle which seeks to pull us down; fight through any difficulty which seeks to deny us of accomplishing our goal. There is no such thing as cruise control in our journey to glory.
We are in pursuit of such things that require our every step to be contested, thus making our progress a matter of unrelenting determination. No one will float into heaven, sipping on a soda, eating grapes and strumming a harp.
There is a contest in which we struggle -- a quest for superiority and victory. Love over hatred, Faith over suspicion, Hope over despair, Truth over deceit, Freedom over bondage, Joy over sorrow, and Life over death.
Jesus has won the victory and offers it to each one who follows Him. But to possess it, you've got to want it enough to contend for it.