With the Olympics just closing, I thought I’d write on something hardly ever exhorted with some Christian pastors, and is non-existent in some. That is in the goal equipping a flock should be the constant exhortation on how to become the very best Christian God made you to be.
An Olympic athlete practices, they train constantly for one moment. Each and every day there is strength training, film study, agility training, mental training, etc. Their goal is to be the very best athlete in the world in their particular sport. Each day the grind begins and those who end up on the podium with medals are invariably those who did the most work in their training. All the athletes in the competition were graced with talent, but it were those who by disciplining themselves, became the very best. They didn’t take days, weeks, months off. They sacrificed the pleasantries of life and trained. They knew on the day of competition that there was absolutely nothing that could surprise them. Their family and friends most likely couldn’t relate, and possibly were frustrated at the devotion in the training process, but in the end realized what happened, they were deemed the best.
1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.
The Apostle Paul uses the Olympic analogy to exhort the Corinthians in the Gospel. He was exhorting discipline all throughout the Chapter and the Olympic athlete mindset needed as a Christian representing the name of Jesus Christ.
You can only be the best by training, and this training comes from the reading and studying of Scripture. Like the Olympian, you will need to put everything else away and focus on your training. Can you do so? Or better yet, do you desire to do so? Because if the desire is not present, you are deceiving yourself in taking the name of a Christian. Because that desire should be constant, it is pointing you to become the very best Christian you can be in the name of Jesus Christ who is the best, the focal point.
Are you caught in the laziness of listening to your pastor once a week, and the rest of the week in the gluttonous of the world? If so, I can guarantee you, you will never be the best. There are many disciplines, just like athletic sport, in the Christian church. God will place His flock into these disciplines such as pastors, teachers, exhorters, missionaries, but every Christian is a Gospel sharer. You can only be the BEST Gospel sharer by studying how to be one by Scripture and listening to the “trainers” who are pastors and teachers, and then disciplining yourself each day by the guidance of the Holy Spirit to be the best.
If you are of the mindset that you are unwilling to learn anything more, unwilling to be corrected, you will never grow and be the best. Because this thing called the Gospel, is called the power of God unto salvation. And God is setting a day where He will put you to the task with one specific person to share that Gospel with months from now or years from now. Are you absolutely sure you can handle each and every objection from the competition? This is where training each day comes in. If you took time off from Scripture, from fellowship, there is a very good chance you will fail in your task from God. And the one opportunity is lost. It doesn’t mean God will not use another then, it means you as an individual failed Him.
The recently passed away Bobby Bowden, the former Florida State football coach, explained this as well in his testimony. In 1986, a player of his was shot and killed. He brought the whole team in and shared the Gospel. An assistant coach came at him with many objections, and this was his moment. Bowden was tasked to share the Gospel and also handle these objections of which he could only do so, by staying diligent in his fellowship and study. The assistant coach turned to God and became a great Christian. Bowden explained it as “God used me by the ability He gave me, and He saved the coach by this.”
Every Christian is graced with the ability to share the Gospel. How are you using this ability? Are you growing? Are you willing to be corrected? Is your desire constant and your training enveloping as your first fruit? Don’t waste that ability! Be prepared to give an account, and those challenges are going to come. Stay in Scripture. Study each word, the context, re-study, re-learn. Don’t allow yourself to be unprepared. Be the BEST by discipline and the total dependence on the Holy Spirit who doesn’t sleep, He is ready to train you day or night.