Mark Cyr: Christians race toward prize that will last forever
I watched the Sochi Olympic Opening Ceremonies last week and was very impressed with the athletes from all over the world as they entered the stadium. I could see the excitement on their faces as most of them tried to record this moment they had been preparing for all their lives with their smartphone video cameras. These athletes are at the top of their sport, having competed with and won against all the great athletes of their own countries. It’s hard not to get excited and wrapped up in this moment with them.
Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, writes about the preparation and mindset of athletes. The Isthmian athletic games were held in Corinth every two years. These games were not quite as old as Greece’s Olympic Games, but had near the same popularity and the contest just as competitive.
Paul states that, as Christians, we are to “… Run in such a way as to get the prize (1 Cor 9:24).” Our walk with Christ is not a sport or competition, but it is way of life and one we should prioritize. Like these Olympians with their sport, we should make this faith we have the top priority in our lives. Our pursuit is Christ likeness, and we should run daily toward this purpose.
Our goal is heaven. Is there a greater goal? Paul states that the athletes prize “will not last,” but as Christians we have a prize “that will last forever.” Is this not a prize worth striving toward? Not that we earn heaven, but by the grace of God, we receive heaven through our faith (Ephesians 2:8). This does not mean that the value of our prize should be trivialized. This prize of heaven was earned through Christ’s great sacrifice, and we should “run in such a way as to get the prize.”
I don’t know what heaven looks like, nor do I believe I could truly comprehend the value of heaven before getting there. However, I continue to move forward in my faith in order that I someday will obtain this prize. Much like the Olympians that entered the stadium there in Sochi last week, I look forward to the day that I will enter heaven.
Heaven is our prize. Let’s run this race to win.
Lt. Mark Cyr is the pastor of The Salvation Army in Carson City.