Are you a TV Olympics junkie or are you exceedingly glad that it all went away? Gosh, who would have thought that Team China would haul away so many golds? My personal good vibe is to see this massive country take a few steps closer to the family of nations. The China of my youth seemed aloof and perpetually revolutionary, dressed in lumpy Mao jackets and clutching their little red books. Kind of cool to see Chinese kids last week in dyed hair, designer jeans, and multiple earrings.
I caught just a few races on TV and was reminded of St. Paul’s famous sports metaphor. You know the one I mean. Knowing that his readers in Corinth were very proud of their Olympic traditions, he wrote, “Do you not know that in a race all runners run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize” (I Corinthians 9:24).
I’ve heard that referred to many times and applied to our heavenly goal. But were you ever troubled by having this verse applied to heaven? “Only one receives the prize.” Uh oh. One winner. Many losers. That can’t be right.
Actually, that passage isn’t telling you how to get to heaven. Heaven is God’s gift to you and to all who are repentant and trust in Jesus. The real metaphor for arriving in heaven is more like mini-Olympics at a Head Start program where all the participants go home with ribbons. On Judgment Day all believers will be standing on the victor’s dais, all with gold medals, all with laurel wreaths.
So what’s the point of Paul’s metaphor? Simply this—that you have been given your earthly life to serve the Lord’s agenda. You’ve been given a set of tools and abilities and all kinds of opportunities unique to you alone to make his name great. Nobody can carry out your mission except you. Do it to the utmost. Your all for his glory. The max. Citius! Altius! Fortius!
Straight talk. Real hope.