This week, we conclude our reflections on God’s call and our response as we hear Paul urging the congregation in Corinth to run to win:
24Do 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 wreath, 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. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
It’s easy to get caught up in Paul’s sports imagery and think that he is worried about how well we compete against others and whether or not we will earn our own reward, but in the context of his letter to the Corinthians it is clear that Paul is speaking of a kind of running and the imperishable reward is the Kingdom of God.
How should Christians “run” this race we call life? Does it make a difference what our goal is?
Whether you are a prize winning athelete, musician, artist, or scholar, you must discipline yourself. No one becomes skilled without working hard at it.
What kind of disciplines should Christians practice in their daily lives to prepare for the race?
What kind of self-control must we exercise?
One of the big headlines over the past few weeks is the internet photo of Michael Phellps apparently smoking marijuana. For many he is now “disqualified” as a role model. In the last verse of this passage, Paul proclaims that he wishes to live the kind of life that won’t disqualify his message. If we are called to proclaim the gospel, what kinds of actions, attitudes, and behaviors would disqualify our witness?