Are you training for anything that matters?
At this moment, six time zones away, an epic contest is being waged…and you probably didn’t even realize it.
I know that the world of professional cycling is mostly invisible in our country. And yet as I write this, there are several hundred thousand of people lining up to watch today’s stage of the three week, 2,000 mile bike race called the Tour de France. It’s so popular that an estimated 15 million people will see it in person! That’s not counting the millions and millions of viewers of the televised broadcasts. By comparison the next largest crowd of sports spectators would be the Indianapolis 500 with about 400,000 spectators. Not even a drop in the bucket compared to the Tour.
What are all these people lining up to see? A group of incredibly fit athletes compete for a prize, for the chance to stand on the podium, to wear a brightly colored shirt, and to enjoy a fleeting moment in the spotlight. Or as one writer put it, “to win a prize that will fade away.”
In the ancient world, athletes had to undergo several months of strict training before competition. And the winner got a wreath…which would eventually rot. That’s why Paul put it like this:
1 Corinthians 9:24-25
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
Today, we give gold statues as prizes. They last a little longer. But not really.
What does the apostle Paul mean by “a crown that will last forever?”
The life you live here matters. Forever. Not just the prayer you prayed to become a follower of Christ. But everything after that.
- Every decision to follow in the tough decisions.
- Every decision to be generous with your time, talent, and treasures.
- Every moment spent laboring in prayer for those who are far from God.
- Every hour spent serving others when you could have been serving yourself.
- Every spiritual practice that you made part of your daily/weekly routine.
- Every kind word offered in response to anger.
- Every choice to forgive when the other person didn’t really deserve it.
It’s all training. And it all matters. It shapes you, and others, not just for this life, but for eternity. For a prize that will last forever.
So if you happen to see news about the most watched sporting event in the world…let it remind you that you’re not just a spectator. You’re an athlete in the game that matters for eternity. Train hard!