Yesterday I was listening to a news report about the 2012 Olympics in London. The reporter was explaining how the athletes, as part of their training, set personal targets and log their performance on a daily basis. If they fail to meet a target one day then they try and compensate the next. These targets don't just relate to physical activity but include things like diet, meditation, rest and sleep. Every evening they analyse and record their physical, emotional and mental state and any weak areas identified are targeted with new aims and objectives. In addition they use this intense introspection to identify areas of compromise where potential distractions might be taking their focus away from that illusive gold medal.
The report brought to mind two passages of scripture:
1 Corinthians 9:25-27
"Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."
"...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith."
What do I want out of life? I want to be holy. I want to be a successful soul winner. I want to live in the love of God. I want to abide in Christ. I want my life to be nothing other than a perfect reflection of Christ. I want to be a champion of social justice. I want to be a prophetic voice to The Salvation Army. I want to be a mighty warrior... and so I could go on.
All of these objectives are far more worthy than that of becoming an Olympic champion. Yet how does my regime compare to that of an athlete? Is my diet, sleep pattern, training schedule etc as focussed as theirs?
If I ever met an Olympic athlete I would undoubtedly recognise them by their visible commitment to their goal. That commitment would affect their whole life, the time they went to bed and got up, the food they ate and the amount of leisure time they had – all of these things would be impacted by their Olympic dream.
What about my dream, what about the Kingdom of God? Isn't that worth as much as a Gold medal?
Today's Scripture Readings:
1 Chronicles 9:1-10:13
David's mighty men – imagine being listed in the bible as a 'mighty man'! I don't know who these men were or what they did – but here are their names, preserved for all time in the eternal word of God.
Lord, may I, through your grace, find my name so listed when I stand before you in your kingdom. Amen!
"It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way." (19:2)
This September I am starting an MA in theology – those who know me may well be surprised as I have always been something of an anti-academic! I'd much rather be surrounded by ignorant practitioners than knowledgeable theoreticians. However, people seem more likely to listen to you when you have a few letters after your name and so at the Army's behest I've agreed to undertake this study. This will be in addition to my role as a Corps Officer - if I'm honest, (and where can I be honest if not in my journal?) I'm quite looking forward to it J
"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (v17)
"Everything that does not come from faith is sin" (v23)
To me these two verses present something of an internal contradiction. This is something I will have to continue to battle with. I will either have to find 'righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit' in some parts of my life or I will have to surrender them. There is no room in my life for doubtful things. I think the key is found at the end of verse 17 "in the Holy Spirit" – our standards of behaviour and chosen lifestyle have to be determined here – in the centre of God's love. Holiness is the outcome of my relationship with God as well as the basis for it.
Grace and peace