I played basketball a lot in my youth. I remember the hours I would dedicate to practicing outside of my parent’s house on a small concrete slab with a basketball hoop attached to the house. Nobody was making me; I just knew that I needed to practice over and over again in order to get ready to compete in the sport I loved.
What do you see before a professional basketball game? The players are practicing the fundamentals. They are shooting layups, free throws, passing, and 3-point shots. No doubt they have practiced these thousands of times by now, and yet they still do the same things over and over again before the big game.
There are many verses in the Bible that relate sports analogies to the Christian faith. A couple of the top examples are running and boxing, which are in today’s verses.
There is a high level of perseverance and discipline that we need to run the Christian race to win, and that comes by not neglecting the Christian fundamentals.
Think about the Olympics. These athletes are driven night and day, often 10 hours or more of training each day, with the goal of winning gold for their countries. While it is a noble effort to pursue Olympic Gold, Paul says if athletes will train for a crown that will not last, or in this case a medal, how much more should we persevere as Christians to finish well.
As Christians, many times we don’t have the goal in sight. It’s easy to focus on the moment, or disappointments, and we think we owe it to ourselves to pursue comfort. We may even think because we are “saved” and going to Heaven, we can now put our spiritual life on cruise control.
In sports, I remember news stories of “prima donna” superstars who wouldn’t show up to practice, or they would show up late to the game. They relied on their talent without honoring the rules of the team, the authority of their coach, and the teamwork needed to win.
This happens with Christians. You may have the charismatic pastor who doesn’t have a quiet time, but can preach without prep... you may have the Christian who doesn’t think they need to go to church or be accountable to a body of Christ... you may have the Christian who watches hours and hours of Netflix a week and yet laments the fact they “didn’t have time” to read the Bible...
As Christians, we cannot rely on our parents’ faith or the fact that we have read the Bible before or have gone to church our entire life. We need a faith that actively seeks Jesus daily, to move from strength to strength. We have a “team” of fellow believers in Christ who are relying on us to show up and use our time and talents for the Kingdom of God. Others who don’t even know Christ are watching you, too.
Who specifically is relying on you to finish well? What are some Christian fundamentals that are sometimes hard to find motivation for, but you know are important?