Athletic metaphors

I love athletics. I played soccer, basketball, and baseball in high school and in college. I love playing these sports. I love watching sports (too much). I have learned much from my athletic competition.

The Bible is full of athletic illustrations and metaphors. The Christian life is like a race. It is like a fight. It takes a degree of training and diligence and focus. There is a reward at the end of the agony. Consider the following verses, …

“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1)
“If anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Timothy 2:5).
“I have fought the good fight; I have finished the course; I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

But remember this. Athletics is only a metaphor that describes the Christian life. It isn’t the Christian life. Yes, let us learn from our sports. But, let us keep them in perspective.  Paul said, “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline os only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8).

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