Becoming an athlete is something that many young children will dream of; often aspiring to be as successful as their role-models.
Becoming a successful athlete, however, doesn’t come easily, and so those who pursue a career in this field must channel their passion into the drive to lay the groundwork for their success – training, often for many years, to peak physical and mental condition.
A large part of an athlete’s preparation will focus on learning and studying the rules and guidelines of their sport so that they can compete fairly. In the same way, we must prepare ourselves for the ‘Race for Our Lives’ by training our minds to live as God wishes us to.
Levelling the Playing Field
We know that every sport has its rules, and each athlete is bound to compete according to them. These exist to make sure that each athlete is aware of what is expected of them and so that all can compete fairly, having the same opportunity to attain the prize.
The phrase, a “level playing field”, might come to mind.
This provides a good summary of what regulations are intended to do. It would be unfair, for instance, if a single rower was placed in competition against a team of two; or asked to row a greater distance than his competitor. There are therefore, guidelines in place, dictating not only the number of people allowed to compete in each event, or how far they must row, but also on the competitors’ age, nationality and even weight.
Every aspect of the sport is covered, from how it should start, to how the prize should ultimately be gained.
Guidance from God
The idea of setting out a series of guidelines, however, is not a man-made idea; in fact, we find this in God’s teachings to us in the Bible:
“If anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” (2 Timothy 2:5)
The Bible uses the analogy of an athlete competing according to the rules, to illustrate the need for us to follow the guidelines set out for us by God in order to be thoroughly equipped to ‘press towards the goal’ (Philippians 3:14).
The goal that we are striving towards is everlasting life in God’s future Kingdom which is to be established upon the earth, and all that we need to be thoroughly equipped with is provided for us in God’s Word – the Bible.
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
God details his commandments to the children of Israel in the Old Testament, but Jesus goes on to build on these in the New Testament, identifying the most important commandments as:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
All of the commandments of God can be fulfilled in our lives by following the principles which Jesus lays out.
This brings us back to the idea that in the ‘Race for our Life’ many winners can be crowned. We are not asked to compete against (and defeat) the other athletes; but rather to love our neighbour and support each other to the finish line.