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Summary: Part 1 of 3 in the series "Going For The Gold." The messages is about what it takes to make the sacrifices necessary to become a world-class Christian.



How to be a World-Class Christian

Hebrews 12:1a

August 1, 2004

Series Introduction:

This month the Olympic games will be returning to their origins in Athens, Greece. Once every four years the best athletes from all around the globe gather for competition. Their sports are many. Their talents are varied. Their ambitions are one. To stand on the top flight of the platform with a gold medal around their neck as their country’s flag is raised and national anthem played. What does it take to win the gold? What does it take to be a world-class athlete? It takes sacrifice, determination, focus and endurance to achieve this phenomenal feat.

Although many will compete in each event only one person can finish first. Only one athlete can win the gold. All other competitors will return home having failed to achieve their goals. And although they are some of the best athletes in the world many would consider them losers for there can be only one winner.

However in the Christian life this is not the case. In the Christian life we can all be winners. We can all bring home the gold. What does it take to be a world-class Christian? It takes sacrifice, determination, focus and endurance. We are going to look at each of these over the next few weeks and so I encourage you to decide today to go for the gold.

Sermon Introduction:

It has been said that you have to “give up to go up.” That means in order to rise to the top there are some things that you have to let go of because they are holding you back. There are some things that you have to give up if you are going to make progress. This involves making sacrifices.

World-class athletes understand that they have to give up to go up. While others are munching on chips and sodas they are snacking on health food bars and vegetables. While others are lying on the couch watching sports on TV they are in the gym working out. Most of the Olympic athletes that will be competing in Athens are not like the professional athletes who earn enormous salaries. They are regular people who make a living by holding down regular jobs. And that means that they have to give up most of their “free time” to train for their sport.

To be a world-class Christian you will also have to give up to go up. There are things that you will have to say no to while everyone around you indulges in them. There are sacrifices that you will have to make and things that you will have to go without.

However, all this talk about giving up things and sacrifice doesn’t sound very appealing. You might be thinking that you’re not too interested in that. Why is it that some people are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to take their athletic performance to the next level and some aren’t?

The same could be asked of believers in Jesus Christ. Why are some willing to make the necessary sacrifices to grow in Christlikeness while many won’t? In today’s passage we will see what it takes to develop the willingness to give up to go up.

1. Be motivated by previous champions.

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,

The image here is of an athlete who is participating in the ancient Greek games. As he prepares for the race that is about to be run he looks up into the stands and sees the crowd of cheering fans and is inspired by them to do his best.

Many times athletes have credited a cheering crowd of fans with giving them the extra motivation they needed to fight back and win the game or contest. That is why so much importance is placed on having home field or home court advantage in team sports. The crowd can literally change the game.

One of the most touching moments in the Sydney Olympics was when Eric "The Swimmer" Moussambani of Equatorial Guinea swam in the 100-meter free style qualifying heat. The 22-year-old African had only learned to swim the previous January, had only practiced in a 20-meter pool without lane markers, and had never raced more than 50 meters. By special invitation of the International Olympic Committee, under a special program that permits poorer countries to participate even though their athletes don’t meet customary Olympic qualifying standards, he had been entered in the 100-meter men’s freestyle.

When the other two swimmers in his heat were disqualified because of false starts, Moussambani was forced to swim alone. Eric Moussambani was, to use the words of an Associated Press story about his race, "charmingly inept." He never put his head under the water’s surface and flailed wildly to stay afloat. With ten meters left to the wall, he virtually came to a stop. Some spectators thought he might drown! Even though his time was over a minute slower than what qualified for the next level of competition, the capacity crowd at the Olympic Aquatic Center stood to their feet and cheered the swimmer on. After what seemed like an eternity, the African reached the wall and hung on for dear life. When he had caught his breath and regained his composure, the French-speaking Moussambani said through an interpreter, "I want to send hugs and kisses to the crowd. It was their cheering that kept me going."

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