Where were we? Oh, yes. Under the light of the lamp; mid-letter. As we look over his shoulder, we find Paul telling his readers about the need for self-discipline. Not in order to earn salvation, but for the eternal rewards of reflecting the Lord in life. "I discipline my body like an athlete..."
In the book of Hebrews, the author writes, "For they (earthly fathers) disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness."
Paul knew that God wants us to live holy lives, and because we fall and fail, we need to be disciplined like children. And here, what we find Paul proclaiming -- and eventually carving into our hearts -- is a preemptive strike upon his own. As the sports-minded or health-conscious person may appreciate, Paul uses the analogy of an athlete who perseveres through training. He allowed the athlete's life of sacrifice to describe how he lives the sacrificial life of a Christ-follower.
At first glance, it's an incredible parallel drawn by the most influential man the world has ever known this side of Christ. But even more amazing when you consider that the man who wrote these words would be given 39 lashes five times, beaten with rods five times, pelted with stones, shipwrecked three times, and who would go without sleep, food and clothing; all because of his heart for churches, people and the message of Jesus.
In sports or fitness, it's tough for an athlete to go without food or sleep, but this most amazing man of God didn't seek to 1) look like, or 2) win medals or even 3) get adored like an athlete. No, the man we find under the lamp trained his LIFE like one. And when he finishes this sentence, we'll find out why.
For Discussion: In one sentence, what is your definition of a Christian athlete?
PrayFit RISE Los Angeles: Speaking of Christian athletes, Jimmy Page will be speaking at RISE in October. Jimmy serves as a Vice President of Field Ministry and the National Director of the Health & Fitness ministry for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Jimmy has coauthored four books, WisdomWalks, WisdomWalks SPORTS, PrayFit, and One Word That Will Change Your Life. Jimmy is a frequent speaker at schools, churches, camps, and retreats and a trainer for corporate, sports, and nonprofit organizations, challenging people to maximize their life and make a difference. He has a contagious enthusiasm and passion for life. As a lifelong athlete, Jimmy enjoys coaching, cycling, and triathlons. Jimmy and Ivelisse were college sweethearts, and they reside in Maryland with their four children: Jimmy, Jacob, John, and Gracie. You don't want to miss him.