Theme: The Good News
Topic: Running the Race
Reading: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it.25Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable garland, but we an imperishable one.26So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; 27but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.
IntroductionTo receive the good news is a great and wonderful experience but then comes the challenge of emulating Christ in our everyday life. Why do some seem to have a hitch-free Christian life while that of others seem to be riddled with struggles? Let me say that no Christian is immune to the challenges of life; Christ never promised such. The promise of God is that He will bring us through life’s troubles when we believe in His Son Jesus Christ. Do we have any role to play in living the new life in Christ? Personally, I will say yes. Not that what we do is the reason we will be with Christ on the last day but that through the guidance of the Holy Spirit we will make the right choices and that God will keep us blameless until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Christian life is described by St. Paul as a race, and my prayer is that we will all run and finish strong and triumphant.
Questions/Discussion1. Why did St. Paul describe the Christian life as a race?
1 Corinthians 9:24
Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it.
2 Timothy 4:7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2. What are some of the reasons that make the Christian life appear unreasonably difficult and impossible?Romans 11:17-23
But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the rich root* of the olive tree,18do not vaunt yourselves over the branches. If you do vaunt yourselves, remember that it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you.19You will say, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.’20That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe.21For if God did not spare the natural branches, perhaps he will not spare you.*22Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity towards those who have fallen, but God’s kindness towards you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.23And even those of Israel,* if they do not persist in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.
1 Corinthians 9:26So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air;
2 Corinthians 4:4-11In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.5For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake.6For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.8We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;10always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.11For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh.
Take care, brothers and sisters,* that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.13But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today’, so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.14For we have become partners of Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end.15As it is said, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.’ 16Now who were they who heard and yet were rebellious? Was it not all those who left Egypt under the leadership of Moses?17 But with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, if not to those who were disobedient?19So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.
3. How do we run the Christian race to the end, to live with Christ eternally?John 15:5-8
I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.6Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.7If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.8My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become* my disciples.
James 1:2-8, 12
My brothers and sisters,* whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy,3because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance;4and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. 5 If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.6But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind;7, 8for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 12 Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord* has promised to those who love him.
The Christian life is like a race, and we have been called to run with all our strength. Through the mercies and grace of the Lord, we will run the race to the end, triumphantly.
Lord without You we can do nothing. We beseech You to endue us with Your Holy Spirit to strengthen and guide us all through our days through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.