The Olympic games are in full swing and there have been stories of dreams reached, hopes crushed, controversies over judging (seemed a bit suspect, especially in women’s gymnastics), debates over the eligibility of athletes, and everything in between. These Games have been the personal show of Michael Phelps who put himself into the history books as perhaps the best swimmer ever, the return of American pride in basketball by assembling a team of amazing talent led by three young superstars who have all decided to put their personal statistics behind them in order to win gold, the world’s fastest man crushing the previous world record and making it look so easy, etc. I have enjoyed watching some of the less-popular sports and seeing people who do things with a ball or with their bodies that defy the laws of gravity and nature.
And what is the reward for the athlete who finishes first? A gold medal, national pride, endorsements, a Wheaties box, ticker-tape parades, and much more. Sadly though, all are perishable, able to be stolen, temporary, and in the end, fleeting. In 2012 no one will be happy with Phelps unless he wins everything, the world record in the 100m will be the topic of conversation, endorsement money will be spent and lost by many athletes, the gymnasts will experience premature arthritis and nagging injuries. All for what? History will never forget them, long after their medals fall apart, the money is spent, and the Wheaties eaten. But they still pursue a temporary glory, a treasure that will not matter in time eternal.
That’s why the Apostle Paul writes about imperishable crowns in 1 Corinthians 9, that we as Christians should be about the discipline and rigor in training and preparation that the Olympians go through in order to receive something that does go away, and even more so in our discipline and effort. Run the race he says, and we as Christians should not take a lazy and apathetic approach to our faith, but should rather look at it the same way an Olympic runner looks at the marathon, as something to prepare for, work hard at, and be disciplined in mind and body to prepare for it. Life, especially as a disciple, is hard. And it can wear out a weak Christian the same way a marathon course will wear out someone who has not properly trained and prepared for it. May we take seriously the commands of Christ and put them in our lives in such a way that we run for the imperishable prize.
This is an awesome clip, it’s the last scene from Chariots of Fire, where we see a person who truly ran for the imperishable prize, Eric Liddell. Thank God for people like him who show us what it truly means to run the race http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPB7r0UpNIE