Thought for the month – August 2015

It is August, and the Camps have started. The Senior Camp took place in the last week of July, and the Junior and Young Christians Camps are due during the first three weeks of August. If you are a camper, I hope that you will be able to look back on an enjoyable time. I hope too that you will not forget the teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Two recent sporting achievements caught my attention. The first was the England women’s football team gaining bronze in the Women’s World Cup. It was the best achievement for an English football team in 25 years. The second was the tennis success of Serena Williams at Wimbledon. She was not only a grand slam winner by being the Ladies Singles Champion. She also completed the ‘Serena Slam‘ as the holder of all four major titles at the same time, and moved closer to the calendar-year grand slam.

The Christian life has parallels with the sporting arena. It is compared to athletics by the writer to the Hebrews “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1 NKJV) and by the apostle Paul: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.” (1 Corinthians 9:24 NKJV). The sportswomen who gained recognition by their trophies were rewarded for their devotion and dedication, not their claims and costume. Looking and talking the part of a winner was not enough. However, very often there are awards other than for the main event. For instance, USA’s Carli Lloyd won FIFA Women’s World Cup ‘Goal of the Tournament’ accolade.

Each area of sport has its rules and boundaries, and means of measuring success. ‘Entry requirements’ are associated with each tournament. There is no chance of winning an award if you do not satisfy those basic criteria. For both the quoted events, you had to be born female. But to enter the Christian race “you must be born again” (John 3:7 NKJV) – a new creation. Whereas for those sporting events, a level of achievement was necessary, for the Christian race, entrance is by faith in Christ’s atoning sacrifice alone. It is all by free grace; it is not gained by effort. Nevertheless, rewards granted (or lost) will be based on our behaviour as Christians.

The ancient judgement seat at the Games was the tribunal for evaluating athletes’ performances, and the ‘laurel-wreath’ crowned the assessed winner. “Everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty.” (1 Corinthians 9:25-26 NKJV). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10 NKJV)

C. T. Studd, born in 1860, became an outstanding County and All-England Cricketer. He was one of the best cricket players in the world. But suddenly he walked away from a promising athletic career and became a Christian missionary. He served the Lord in China, India and Africa for over 40 years. A verse from a poem he composed says:

Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

James wrote, “You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14 NKJV)

In the Northern Hemisphere, August 7th is approximately the mid-point of summer. ‘Mid-point’ can be a time for reflection. It reminds us that time is running out. The prophet cried, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” (Jeremiah 8:20). If you have not yet trusted Christ as your Saviour, why not do so now? “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2). If you have, then aim for the winner’s crown.

Michael Sparkes
Committee Member and Support Leader on Junior Camp (Week 1)