Thursday, 26 July 2012

It's Olympic time!

At Grace last week we began an evening series looking at Scriptures with an olympic theme. I was given 1 Corinthians 9.24-27.
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

The Olympic torch passing though Bedford last week.
I was reluctant to merely give a talk on the importance of discipline in the Christian life least it should lead to a misunderstanding. So many people still think that becoming and being a Christian is all about trying to be good and engaging in religious activities. Now neither of those things are wrong but they are not the essence.

The Christian gospel is a message of grace which we receive by faith. That is to say that God has provided a way to repair the broken relationship between us and Him, through the willing sacrifice of His son, the Lord Jesus. It is through faith in what He has done that the Christian believer now finds motivation to live life for God's glory. That isn't to say that at times the Christian life is simply about doing the right thing in the right situation irrespective of how we feel, but mostly it is about living a life of gratitude.

So I tried to be careful in how I spoke from this passage. I concluded with three practical ways to train ourselves in how to life a life for God's glory.

1. We should immerse ourselves in Scripture. The Bible is a rich source of teaching, guidance, comfort and so much more. To expand our view of the grandeur and beauty of God and to wet our appetites for the 'things that God has prepared for those who love Him', the Bible is in dispensable.

2. We should make the most of worship opportunities. Although all of life is worship, I particularly wanted to focus upon the benefit that comes from engaging in the songs we sing in our meetings together. A really good song will teach, it will help us express longings (what one of the old hymn books used to call 'songs of aspiration'), and it will re-implant gospel truths in our hearts. As St Augustine said, 'to sing is to pray twice'. Thus as we reflect upon the words and enjoy the melody we both engage our hearts (or rather emotions),  and minds and in that sense grow in grace.

3. We should develop a 'whole-life' view of Christian living. How much I have been helped by Michael Green and LICC is seeing all of life as an opportunity to live for God's glory.Whether providing the 'cup of cold water to the least of these', or explaining the gospel to someone. I mentioned that I have begun to ask shop assistants what sort of a day they are having. It's very simple, but it keeps me other centred and can be surpassingly up-lifting to someone not expecting it!

Take a listen if you have half and hour.
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