“You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (MSG)
Competing in his 5th Olympic games this summer in Rio, Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time, winning his 21st career Olympic gold medal on Tuesday night. Yet, his legendary success was clouded by unimaginable suffering that led him to consider suicide in 2014. None of the Olympic gold medals he won could fill the longing for relationship and healing in his heart. Each victory was short lived and left him depleted of any sense of self-worth or purpose for the future. He tells his own story in a revealing YouTube video of personal pain and spiritual awakening that would transform his life.
His story is matched by so many other Olympians who tell their own journey from the awards platform to real purpose in life. The Apostle Paul had the Greek Olympic games in mind when he penned 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (MSG).
“You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.”
What is the gold you are pursuing in life? God offers a gold medal that lasts eternally. All other pursuits, even when they are achieved, are short-lived. Soon, the euphoric feelings of victory fade, and the medals are tucked away on a shelf as life goes on. Only two things last forever. God’s Word and People. That’s why Paul continues in this passage to write:
“I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.” 1 Corinthians 9:25-26 (MSG)
Paul had discovered a purpose worth giving his life for. He wasn’t striving to be accepted; he had already been accepted by Christ. It was a message he sought to bring to the world. Today, we have that same opportunity. We can live our lives for things that will not last, or we can live our lives for Christ.
This Sunday, you have the opportunity to discover how to go for the eternal gold at our first ever Olympic-themed Membership Class following the last Sunday morning service at a Woodlands Church campus near you. I hope you’ll register now and join us for lunch this Sunday!