1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but [only] one receives the prize? So run [your race] that you may lay hold [of the prize] and make it yours. Now every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things. They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither, but we [do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness] that cannot wither. Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim). I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary. But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit].
This summer one of the grandest events of all sports will be held in China. The 2008 Summer Olympic games. The worlds greatest athletes will compete for gold, silver, and bronze metals in various events from swimming to basketball, boxing, and track and field. Some of these athletes have been training their whole lives just for these Olympic games. They have put their bodies through tremendous hardship, self-denial, and training. They have followed strict diet plans each day leading up to China. They have sacrificed time with loved ones. Endured financial sacrifices
all to obtain a prize that is perishable and that will not last forever.
When we see the discipline of these athletes the mental toughness and focus they exhibit for something that will not last forever, how much more are we who call ourselves Christians to be tenacious mentally, physically, and emotionally in our daily walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. Our minds should be focused and set on those things which are above where Christ is in Heaven and not these temporary things upon this earth which we know will fade away. Sometimes I wonder about myself and others who say we love Christ if we really believe what we read in His Word. I see so much worldliness and materialism in the visible Church today that it is hard to distinguish us from non-believers or followers of Christ. Professing Christians who drink and party like the world, smoke the same things, watch the same television shows and movies, and have the same immoral sex as the world and claim to know Christ. This should not be ladies and gentleman.
The Lord commands us to come out from among them and be separate and touch not the unclean things of this world. Sometimes I believe that we today think the Apostle Paul was some type of superman with a miraculous birth like that of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was a man just like you and me born of a sinful Father and Mother and born with a corrupt nature just like you and I. This man was so evil before he met Christ that he killed people and thought nothing of his dreadful acts of violence. He even was deceived to thinking that his deplorable acts of violence was some grand service to God. This is how far and deep into darkness this superman the Apostle sank into depravity and corruption.
Each event in the Summer Olympic games in China will have a set of rules to be adhered to by every athlete or they will suffer disqualification. No individual athlete can decide that he's going to make up his/her own rules of competing. The Apostle Paul was not a super Christians, he just followed the rules of the race and disciplined himself by the grace of God to compete accordingly. Our rule book is the Bible.
Why do we see individual people, denominations, and churches deciding to change God's rules? Is the clay to say to the potter make me this way? Of course not, we cannot say God your rules are to demanding, narrow, strict, to much like having tunnel vision. The goal of the Apostle Paul (as should be that of every Christian) was to do the will of God and to finish his race to reach the Lord Jesus Christ according to the rules laid out before him by the Lord. The Apostle Paul appears to many people to be some sort of superman or Christian when in fact he was just a normal man who received Christ and surrendered his will in complete obedience.
I am absolutely embarrassed at myself first and at today’s visible church when I see how we are compromising the truth of a real self-denying, cross-bearing, discipleship in the Lord Jesus Christ. How can we ever expect the observing world to believe in the purity, righteousness, and holiness that is Christ if they cannot see these things in His so called followers. Do you want to obtain the prize and reach the goal? Do you want to see this world turned from evil to good? Then my solemn plea for you and me is for each one of us to run our race with honesty, steadfastness, integrity, and above all according to the rules to obtain the ultimate prize of the upward or high calling of God in Christ Jesus. This prize will never perish or fade away.
Sincerely in Christ,
Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
Author, Silent Assassins of the Soul (not yet published; coming soon)