Whilst the Games are going on down in London, perhaps it has occurred to you that the athletes have all been totally focussed and 100% determined, with their sights set firmly on the medals. You have to have this attitude to succeed, whatever the event or competition.
In fact, there are many similarities between these athletes’ events and the ‘race’ of the disciple. The word ‘disciple’ is related to the word ‘discipline’ and it is not hard to see that anyone who embarks upon the course of following Jesus in their life needs to have a lot of self-discipline. The race is hard.
The Apostle Paul called his own journey a race when he said “I have finished my course; I have kept the faith,: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness,” (2 Timothy 4v7). In Paul’s day the ancient Olympics, and indeed other events like the Isthmian Games, were very popular and he was no doubt alluding to the victor’s prize in this comment.
So the disciple of Christ also needs to fix sights on the prize in order to stay motivated. We know from reading the Bible that the prize is the same for everyone – a place in the kingdom of God on earth. Paul wrote these words too: “Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,” (Hebrews 12v1-2).
We are told before we run this race to “lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily besets us,” (v1). Imagine an athlete trying to run a race with a big heavy rucksack on his back. Or trying to run with lead weights on his shoes. In the same way, we should try to run our race without the hindrance of sin, which only weighs us down and makes running harder. We should turn aside from everything that might make us stumble, and as Paul says, run with patience – with stamina. For this is not a sprint, but a race of endurance. Have you got what it takes to run?