(I preached this message last Sunday, Jan. 3, 2010, for the New Year.)
One of my favorite films of all time was the 1981 British film, “Chariots of Fire.” It “was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four, including Best Picture. It is ranked 19th in the British Film Institute‘s list of Top 100 British films.” Based on a true story, it portrays Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), a Christ-follower born in China of Scottish missionary parents, who joined the 1924 Paris Olympics in the 100m dash. There is a scene of Liddell gently telling a young boy that Sunday, the Lord’s day, is not a day for playing ball, but for worshipping God. After winning the Scotland vs. Ireland race, he tells a crowd on “life as a race.” While boarding the boat to Paris, he was shocked to learn that the schedule for his 100m race falls on a Sunday. Despite pressure from the Prince of Wales and the British Olympic Committee, Liddell decides against joining the race because he believed that Sunday is the Lord’s day, not for anything else. Finally, Lord Andrew Lindsay (Nigel Havers) offered to give up his 400m race, which falls on a Tuesday, for Liddell. Liddell accepts it. His religious convictions make headlines around the world. Before Liddell’s 400m race, the American coach tells his runners that Liddell has little chance to win it. But Liddell beats the American runners and wins the gold medal. As the movie closes, Eric Liddell went on to become a missionary to China.
Do you know that God has called you to run a race? Heb. 12:1 says, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (NKJV). When you trusted Christ as your Savior, automatically, you were qualified to run in the Spiritual Olympics. The moment you received Christ as your Lord, God put you in a race. The noun, “race,” here is from the Greek, agon, which means, “a race involving competition and struggle.” (Louw-Nida). It is where we get our English word, “agony.” This race involves an agonizing struggle till the finish line. This race is not a sprint but a marathon—till Jesus comes.
This race requires endurance (Gk. hupomone)—the “capacity to continue to bear up under difficult circumstances.” (Louw-Nida) It requires the endurance of faith in Christ. In Hebrews 12, the author is urging his readers to run the race of endurance in Christ.
Now God did not call you to run the race only to give up halfway. What God has begun in you, he will be faithful to finish it in Christ. But God is expecting you to do just one thing in this race—endure! Your part is to endure, to persist, and to persevere in Christ.
For this New Year, I hope and pray that you will persevere in trusting and obeying Jesus, to endure in following Him, to keep on moving forward for Christ, like runners in a marathon.
“Chariots of Fire,” in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chariots_of_Fire
“Chariots of Fire,” in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chariots_of_Fire.