By: Reverend Frank I. Williams
Are you ready for the Word!
“And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.” 2 Timothy 2:5
Every four years the world comes together for a sporting competition like none other. The Olympics create a unique global platform for nations to showcase their best athletes in the hopes of winning gold in a respective sporting event. I could only imagine the thrill of the moment, and rush of adrenaline that an athlete experiences as he or she gives it their all – pushing their body to its limits. But that’s why they trained, endured special diets, and competed in local events hoping to qualify for the biggest sporting stage in the world.
In the passage above Paul the apostle likens the journey of faith to an athlete in competitive sports. He writes to a young minister named Timothy, encouraging him to adhere to the doctrines and teachings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Then he makes a statement that every athlete knows very well, i.e. you are “not crowned” unless you compete according to the rules.
Being crowned indicates that the athlete has successfully finished the race, or completed the event, and has emerged as a winner. But you don’t win while breaking the rules. This is a principle that is very clear in the Olympics and in most other sporting events (yes, I said most). Paul uses this analogy to help us understand that even the personal spiritual matters of faith and beliefs are grounded in a system of revealed truth from the Creator. These system necessitates that our beliefs and faith practices be connected to His revealed truth.
Therefore, if we create our own “truths” or arrive at conclusions that are outside the parameters of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then Paul warns that this is a breaking of the rules that compromises being crowned. The exclusiveness of the claims of Christ confronts the prevailing pluralism of world culture and stands before us declaring its authenticity. In 21st century dialogue this is almost considered to be rude, and definitely politically incorrect. I call it the audacity of truth. Now, at the same time, we are not required to follow Paul’s advice; just like an athlete can start running whenever her or she chooses. Of course you see the problem here if an athlete does that. He or she would be disqualified from that event. They cannot change the rules to suit themselves. Therein lies the human dilemma. We desire to have it our way – at some point we all desire it our way. But Proverbs 14:12 states, “There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end isthe way of death.”
I have concluded that there are realities in life, and more so, beyond this life that are not my prerogative to change, nor are they within the scope of my ability to alter. The granting of eternal life is one of them. That is solely, and only up to God our Creator. It is His “game” (so to speak) and we must compete according to His rules if we want the crown of eternal life.
If one does not care about obtaining eternal life, then these rules matter as much as a golf ball does in an NBA game. That’s the blessing of freewill – compete if you want to, but if you do, follow the rules. What a gift, what a risk. May God bless our athletes, for they teach us many lessons. Think on these things.