Summary: The Christian journey can be described as a "race." We choose the kind of race we run -- fun and games; obligatory; or the long-term run.
1. Last week we “passed the baton” in regard to teaching people the word of God from generation to generation and person to person.
2. It made me think of the ancient Roman Games and how they were used as illustrations for the Christian life.
3. The Games in Rome were a big deal. Although much of ancient Roman life revolved around negotium (work and business), there was also time available for otium (leisure). Ranging from swimming to playing board games to attending theatre performances, athletics and forms of entertainment enjoyed by Romans in ancient times were not much different from those that exist today. Their athletic events included swimming, horseback riding, wrestling, boxing, running, handball, soccer, field hockey, and even hunting and fishing.
4. Some passages about running the race:
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
5. What kind of Race are we running?
I. “Picnic Races”
A. Fun and Games
1. Examples: Sack Race; Three-Legged Race; Wheel-Barrow Race; Relay Races
2. Nothing of importance, Optional races – just for fun or bragging rights
1. Is this how we treat our walk with God? Entertainment/fun and games?
2. I have heard all of my career that the church “isn’t meeting my needs.” I rarely hear about people stepping up and saying, “My needs aren’t being met in regard to ____ so I am going to take the lead and do something about it.” Blatant consumerism or consumption of Christian entertainment
1 Corinthians 13:11 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
3. Then when the going gets tough we crash and burn because we were in it for the wrong reasons. As in the parable of the soils (Matthew 13:1-9) – shallow or thorny soils
II. The “Sprint” – 100 Yards; 220; 440
A. Requires speed and focus
B. Sometimes there is a sprint for a short term ministry
1. Widows in Acts 6
2. Building projects, etc.
C. Sometimes we make church a sprinting event with Obligatory Involvement – sprint to church activity, get it over with and check it off of the to do list, then sprint home to restaurant
D. Does the Obligatory Involvement sound anything like 2 Timothy 4:6-8?
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
III. “Cross-Country” Races
A. Longer – Marathon (26.2 miles); Cross Country (2.5-7.5 Miles); 1 Mile
1. Requires planning, pacing and endurance
2. Danger of burnout
B. Recognition of the Christian walk – it’s not a one day event, but a lifetime of opportunities to let God lead us.
1. In Good Times and In Hard Times 2 Corinthians 11:22-29
But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?