Tokyo 2020 has come and gone. It was scheduled for 2020 but due to the COVID pandemic, it was postponed to 2021.
It was a very unusual Olympics with various competitions staged in stadia devoid of crowds to give their favourite competitors the needed support. Nevertheless, athletes in different categories prepared and competed in order to win a medal.
I have read the stories of a few Olympians and what they had to do to prepare for the Olympics. They had to subject their bodies to rigorous training regimes as well as regulate their meals to ensure that they were physically fit for the competition. They also had to be mentally fit as well as we clearly saw in the last Olympics where some athletes had to withdraw from the games due to mental health issues.
When Paul the Apostle wrote the letter in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, he knew that the Corinthians would understand the metaphor of athletics in running the Christian race. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 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” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)
The Isthmian Games was founded by the King of Corinth and is one of the Panhellenic Games of Ancient Greece. They knew what it took to compete in the Games and the reward that is given to the winners. Similar to the Isthmian games, the Christian race is about preparation, discipline and self control. Contrary to earthly games however, the Christian race is one that does not end in a few weeks but continues throughout our lifetime, culminating in the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will give prizes to those who endure till the end. Isn’t it wonderful to know that we are not competing against our Christian brothers and sisters but are joined together in the same race? We are like a relay team, passing the baton from one person to another, all with the aim of winning collectively.
The Covid pandemic prevented fans and supporters of athletes be physically present at the venue of the games to root for them but in the Christian race, we are constantly being cheered by what the writer of Hebrews calls ‘a great cloud of witnesses’ (Hebrews 12:1). When athletes run towards the finishing line, they don’t look back to see if anyone is catching up with them, they set their eyes on the finishing line. Our finishing line is Jesus. We need to constantly keep our eyes on Him as we run with endurance the race marked out for us. We all have our routes marked out for us. Some parts of the route will be bumpy and difficult to navigate but we need to continue to keep our eyes on Jesus and not look at someone else’s route.
The Christian race is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Let us run together and let us keep our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and the perfecter of our faith. This is our ultimate race and together we will win!