Shelby G. Floyd
The Christian life is a marathon. The New Testament abounds with allusions to the ancient games conducted in Greece, Asia and Rome. This year the Summer Olympics were to be held in Tokyo, but were postponed to 2021. Athletes from all over the world will then be competing for the top prize—a gold medal of honor and glory.
The Heavenly Prize
In the same way Christ and the apostles admonish Christians to compete with ourselves to win the prize of heaven. “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). The word “press” reveals that there will be opposition to each one of us. Therefore, it will require great effort and training to win the heavenly prize.
The writer of Hebrews admonishes: “Therefore…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1). Many of us are weighted down with so many worldly pursuits that we cannot “run with patience” the race ahead of us. For most people the race marked out for us is not a walk, but a marathon that we must run for many years. This means that stamina and patience will be required to sustain us for the length of life.
The Longest Marathon
Greece proper was attacked in 490 B.C. with a Persian sea attack upon Athens. The fleet landed near Marathon in Attica. Athens was betrayed by Hippias, who was to rule Athens if the Persians won. The crisis was so great, that the runner Pheidippides ran a hundred fifty miles from Athens to Sparta under forty eight hours. His message to the Spartans was,
Lacedemonians, the Athenians make request of you to come to their help, and not allow a city most anciently established among the Hellenes to fall into slavery by the means of the Barbarians…” (Outline of History, H. G. Wells, 1961, pp. 250-251).
And then he ran another one hundred fifty miles back to Athens. Eventually, the Spartans joined their countrymen in a great victory at The Battle of Marathon!
In like manner, the Christian race is not a brief sprint, but a long marathon that will require all the courage and stick-to-it that we can muster. The prize will be worth it:
“Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
Like some who have done mean and wicked things in order to win in sports, Satan will do everything he can to throw up roadblocks to trip us up when we are struggling,
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24).
Let us like Pheidippides; finish our marathon race for Christ.
Copyright © 2020 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street
Greenwood, Indiana 46142