Strip Down

The Summer Olympics will be held in London in late July and our quadrennial obsession will commence. (quadrennial: happening every four years. Impress your friends. Find a way to use quadrennial, too.)

Anyway, my husband and I will become absorbed in track and fielders, gymnasts, pole vaulters, equestrians. Archers and shot putters and spear throwers. I mean javelin throwers. We cheer for the USA and Serbia soccer teams (if you are wondering why, please see my About Me page).

Swimmers and divers.

Love, love, love.

And think about this. When the Apostle Paul was writing in the First Century a.d., the Greek games had already existed for 700 years. What started as a 200 yard footrace now offered a great many events, including chariot racing.

I will at this point note that a savage sport was introduced in 648 b.c. called pancratium. It was a sometimes deadly combination of wrestling and boxing. I mention this for you UFC fans without commenting on the vicious, merciless bloodletting, and . . . oh, never mind.

But what reels us in, even to the sports about which we know very little – like kayaking – are the stories.

Sacrifice. Injury. Discouragement.                                                                                                           

Grit. Determination. More sacrifice.

Finding a way to win.

Inevitably, every story has these elements.

So back to Paul. He appears to have been a fan of the Olympic Games. And he brilliantly illustrates the Christian life as a marathon.

While I’m not a big fan of The Message Bible, I do like its Hebrews 12: 1 version:

Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever.

  •  Extra spiritual fat? You mean like sitting in church week after week and not sharing the Gospel, or, at the very least, your own story of coming to know Christ?
  •  Parasitic sins? You mean habits (bad), secret (bad) activities, non-secret (bad) attitudes?

Running this marathon with extra spiritual fat and parasitic sins is like shouldering a bag of bricks and expecting to – what? Actually win?

The stuff that’s causing the problem has got to go. Period. Then, helpful things, like Runkeeper, (you make the analogy) can do their job.

Simon Wheatcroft, age 29, from Doncaster, England, lost his sight when he was 18. He is an “ultra-runner”, covering distances over 26.2 miles. Simon uses the app, Runkeeper, which maps the terrain for him, then reads the information over a headset while he runs.

Simon with app.

There are occasional mishaps. But, he says, “You only run into a post once before you think, ‘Right, I’m going to remember where that is next time.'”

Exactly.

And he’s going to be one of the torchbearers at the 2012 Olympic Games.

He runs light. He runs smart. He runs with help.

Study, said Paul, how Jesus did it.

Your problem won’t be the Cross. But it might be the shame or the whatever. Regardless, strip down, start running, never quit. And, for heaven’s sake, keep your eyes on Jesus.

Because, if you do, one thing is guaranteed. There will be an exhilarating finish.

Have you thought about extra spiritual fat in your life? Or parasitic sins? Is it time to acknowledge and discard them?

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