A SPIRITUAL ASPECT OF A RELAY RACE, AND HOW TO ACHIEVE YOUR VICTORY
Every relay race is about the baton and the objective is to keep it moving at maximum speed. The Christian life is a relay race that never ends. As Christians, we are constantly on the go for Christ with our focus on eternal life. We must all run a part of our race and pass the baton of the gospel to the next generation.
In the book of Matthew 16:18b (AMP), Jesus said, ‘…I will build my church, and the gates of Hades (the powers of the infernal region) shall not overpower it (or be strong to its detriment or hold out against it).
Here, Jesus simply meant that Christianity will never cease to exist no matter the strong waves of darkness against it.
In 1 Corinthians 9:24 (AMP), Apostle Paul likened Christianity to a race. He said:
‘Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but (only) one receives the prize? So run (your race) that you may lay hold (of the prize) and make it yours.’
He was telling the Corinthians here that, because they are simply in the Christian race does not mean they will automatically win the prize. Winning the prize requires the continuous effort of doing God’s will.
Unfortunately, many Christians have been distracted for a while and have sustained great injuries. However, there is hope. In order to keep running this race, there are certain factors that must be considered:
Righteousness is the foundation of every Christian race. Sin creates pot-holes in the paths of a Christian. If we want to keep running on the right path, we must resist sin. Hebrews 12:1b (AMP) states:
‘….let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us.
When there are obstacles on the path of a relay runner, he either trips or gets injured and he is unable to get to the finish line. This is also applicable to the Christian race. Sins are obstacles on the path of a Christian. In order to stay on track, we need to abstain from all sins and uphold righteousness without looking back. The aim of the Christian race is to receive the prize of eternal life. However, if we are distracted by the temporary prizes of this world, we lose all. Let us look at what the scripture has to say about sin in ‘Romans 8:13 (AMP)’:
‘For if you live according to (the dictates of) the flesh, you will surely die. But if through the power of the (Holy) Spirit you are (habitually) putting to death (making extinct, deadening the (evil) deeds prompted by the body, you shall (really and genuinely) live forever.’
According to Mark 13:33 (AMP), ‘be on your guard (constantly alert), and watch and pray; for you do not know when the time will come. It is important that we focus on Jesus no matter the distractions we focus.’
During a relay race, a runner is focused and will not stop in the face of distractions. Jesus is our pioneer and trailblazer and during his time, he did not give up. He ensured that the baton was passed. The race is a marathon and we are required to remain faithful to the end. In 2 Timothy 4:7 (AMP), Apostle Paul said:
‘I have fought the good (worthy, honourable and noble) fight, I have finished the race, I have kept (firmly held) the faith. Encourage yourself with the words and be not dismayed.
Every sprinter dedicates their time and energy to winning. Also, Apostle Paul did not run the race anyhow. He followed in the ways of Jesus Christ and stayed on the right course. His focus was a great indication that he was determined to achieve the prize.
Athletes push their bodies through unbearable pains to achieve desired results. To be disciplined means to control yourself in order to achieve certain results. Apostle Paul was disciplined. He knew he was running a race and subjected himself under control. Even when he was weary, he kept running the race. He tells us this in 1 Corinthians 9:27 (AMP):
‘But (like a boxer) I buffet my body (handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships) and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit (not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit).’
Boxers like Mohammed Ali would discipline their physical bodies to emerge as the best. This is the kind of discipline needed in the Christian race. We ought to know that to reach the finish line, we must commit ourselves to service, prayer, fasting and give to the poor. These are spiritual exercises we must never get weary of if we plan to get the prize.
Apostle Paul encourages us to live a disciplined life worthy of emulation. He encourages believers to stand the test of sicknesses, trials and sufferings in order to be seen as true Christian athletes worthy of passing the baton.
4. Take Courage in the Great Cloud of Witnesses
The Apostles advised us to take courage in the fact that we are not alone. Several prophets and patriarchs ran their race through troubles. Running our race, we are to take solace in the fact that sooner or later, we will lay hold of our prize. For example, Jesus Christ endured the cross that before him because he understood the great joy that was set before him in the future. Today, he is seated at the right hand of the father in heaven.
Following the steps of Jesus Christ means we should give ourselves to the course of the race. For at the end of the day, we will join the saints and live eternally. Hebrews 12:1a (AMP):
‘Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (who have borne testimony to the truth)….’
1 Corinthians 9:24-25 – Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
Here are some enouraging thoughts for you, run the race that has been set before us with the hope that we shall receive the eternal prize.
ENCOURAGE YOURSELF IN THE LORD: (Ecclesiastes 9:11) verse: The race is not given to the swift nor the strong but he who endures until the end.