I was watching the Olympics the other day while I had a few spare moments. The event being broadcast is, to me, one of the strangest sporting events ever – the Biathlon. (The only one stranger is curling. What is that about? I apologize in advance to my Canadian readers, but is this really a sport?) For those who maybe aren’t familiar with this event it is cross country skiing and target shooting all in one event. You ski for a while, you stop and shoot, then you ski some more, stop and shoot, so on and so forth.
What I noticed as I watched this particular day was the finish line. To borrow a phrase from the athletic world, the leading competitors were “leaving it all out there.” In other words, they were putting every ounce of energy they had into finishing the race. You could tell because it was not uncommon that as the leaders crossed the finish line they would be grimacing and then literally collapse from sheer exhaustion.
As I watched I thought about what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9: “Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should” (verses 24-27). Paul was talking about “leaving it all out there” when it came to the Kingdom. How many of us will bring ourselves to the point of sheer exhaustion when it comes to our families, jobs, homes, hobbies or vacations, but when it comes to the church we have to establish “healthy boundaries” because it’s not good to over commit? I understand the need for balance in our lives, it is essential in fact. However the balance we should be seeking as Christ-followers should find its definition in the context of “seeking first the Kingdom” (Matthew 6:33).