January 15, 2018
In my opinion, the book, “The Pilgrims Progress” penned in 1678 does an excellent job of depicting this pilgrimage from the perspective of the Christian. Now, in all honesty, I haven’t actually read the book, but I watched the movie four times. And I loved it each time. The story is set in the dreams of Author John Bunyan, and it exemplifies the challenges and obstacles we encounter on our way home.
When I read the apostle Paul’s writings of our Christian journey, it seems often, his characterizations of our experience are compared with those of an athlete. I love the allegories and analogies in scripture, such as when Jesus, speaking with farmers compared the Word of God to seed and the soil to the heart of man. With fishermen, he spoke of fish. With shepherds, he used parables of sheep and goats. Here Paul is using athletes as a likeness.
I played two years of basketball at Kohala High School and it was a memorable experience. The intensity and passion each individual invested to achieve a higher level of play was awesome. Maybe you have to experience it to fully grasp the drive and sacrifice. Now, I do not wish to give the impression that I was any good at the sport, actually I was terrible and I can’t truthfully say I’ve improved. Yet even my freshman year I ran just as hard alongside teammates and witnessed firsthand the impact the sport had on the players. To most of them basketball was everything. They were required to keep grades up, worked out in any spare time and spent hours practicing shots. Any extra cash was spent on a better pair of shoes to improve their game.
The lives of Olympic competitors are a holistic approach in devotion toward the goal of being the best. 1 Corinthians 9, 24 states, “Don’t you know that all runners in the race compete, but only one wins. So run to win. Each competitor must exercise self-control in everything. They do this to receive a perishable crown, but we, an imperishable one. so don’t run uncertainly or shadowbox hitting only the air.”
Paul here places further emphasis on the concept that temporal life is an exercise in faith which compels and motivates us to mind the things of the spirit and crucify the desires of the flesh. To press forward and kick our past errors to the curb. 1 Philippians 3, 12: “I have not already obtained this, that is, I have not been perfected, but I strive to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus also laid hold of me. I am single-minded, forgetting those things behind me and reaching out for that which is ahead. I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us who are perfect embrace this point of view. If you think otherwise God will reveal your errant ways. Nevertheless, let us live up to the standard that we have already attained”.
2 Timothy 2, 3-8. You, therefore, endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man in military service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life; that he may please him who has chosen him to be a soldier.”.
The examples of soldiers and athletes above all were focused on a goal, and with that goal in mind, they pursued a lifestyle that would give them the greatest possible opportunity for achieving the best outcome. As disciples of Christ, we have a hope, a vision, and must engage in a lifestyle that will best guarantee the desired result of our adoption, the redemption of our souls into a new and spiritual body.
As with soldiers and athletes, we face an opponent whose principal goal here on earth is our defeat, yet we live not in fear, but in the knowledge that the Word of God has triumphed, that Christ alone is Lord. Our peace is with him, our hope in him alone. We are aware of the father of lies and his attempts at sabotage still “We keep our eyes focused on Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Romans 15, 4-5 “Now the God of Patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another in accordance with Christ Jesus: so that together, with one voice and one mind you may glorify God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Now unto him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.”
Tim Pontius is currently a student at —————- and is preparing himself for a future devoted to the sharing of the good news of Christ and a meaningful, fulfilling existence here in the interim.