In 1 Corinthians 9, beginning at verse 24, the Apostle Paul starts talking sports. It's probably the closest thing to ESPN you'll find in the Bible. He asks, rhetorically, if his readers realize that only one runner wins the prize. Just like the Olympics, they didn't hand out gold-medal participation awards. The award for the running race is a wreath that will wither and rot.
Then Paul informs his readers that both he and the reader run a race of great eternal significance. The man who said "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11:1), said he runs, and not aimlessly. He's serious about the race. He's not boxing the air. No. His swings are connecting.
What's the race?
The author (or authors) of Hebrews uses a race analogy too. But it's different than Paul's race. In Hebrews 12:1, the race is about the faithful Christian life. Undoubtedly Paul is a stupendous example of the faithful Christian life, but Paul is talking about something more specific. What's the race Paul is getting at?
The answer becomes abundantly clear when we back up to the preceding paragraph (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). This is the "I become all things to all people" paragraph. Notice how many times the word 'win' appears in this paragraph. Five times! And the sixth time the word changes from 'win' to 'save.' Paul is running a race so the Kingdom of God might gain more souls (the Greek word behind 'win' could also be translated as 'gain'). Paul's race is about the gospel, and he runs the race so "that I may share with them in its blessings" (1 Corinthians 9:23).
I'll be discussing this race and Paul's instructions for how we are to run it. We'll be in 1 Corinthians 8 & 9 on Sunday. If you want to get a jump on it, notice what Paul says about giving up his rights and freedoms for the sake of his witness for Christ.
I hope you'll join us tomorrow. Come worship with the Redeeming Life faith-family!
For the Kingdom!
Pastor Bryan Catherman