25 Jun 2022 • Articles
This year the Commonwealth Games will be held close to us, in Birmingham.The Commonwealth Games started in 1930, when they were known as the British Empire Games, but they were originally inspired by the competitions which were held every four years in the Greek city of Olympia from about 700 BC to 400 AD.
Jesus would have known about the Olympic Games and the similar games which were held regularly in other Greek cities.He would have approved of the treaties which decreed that all national and international disputes should stop while the games were being held, so that athletes, writers and orators could travel safely.
St. Paul spent several years in Greece, and he was probably present at some of the competitions, including those which were held in Corinth when he lived there.
St. Paul must have been a sports fan.In at least six of his letters Paul uses pictures from sport to describe life as a Christian.'Everyone who competes in the Games goes into strict training,' he writes to his friends in Corinth, 'they do it to win a prize for a season, we train to win a crown which will last for ever.''Fight the good fight of the faith,' he tells Timothy, 'athletes do not receive the victor's crown unless they follow the rules,' but the wonderful news is, 'the Lord, the just judge, is waiting with the crown of righteousness for everyone who longs to reach God's goal.'
It is only in God's race that everyone can win – but only if we take part!Mostly we will be running in teams, and we need to support each other, sincerely and reliably, making our best effort to train regularly, to know and to follow the rules and to keep going to the very end.There are no short cuts, no 'byes', no easy victories and no possibilities for cheating.But, in the words of the popular hymn, 'Run the straight race through God's good grace,' and you will find that in the Christian life it really is the taking part which counts, for 'Christ is the path, and Christ the prize.'
As you enjoy the Commonwealth Games, let the example and enthusiasm of the competitors inspire you for God's great event, running for, with and to Jesus, experiencing the exhilaration and exultation this gives to each Christian soul.
With every blessing for your role in the team in which you are enrolled,