The opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Sochi will be held today as the world looks on. Olympians will be watched by hundreds of thousands of spectators in the stadiums and billions more on television (An estimated 4 billion people watched at least some part of the London Olympics in 2012). The athletes represent their countries to the world in what is intended to be an international display of sportsmanship, competition, and goodwill.
In 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, Paul likens our Christian life to a race:
"Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible."
The athletes at the Olympics have worked very hard and endured hours and hours of practice and training to ensure they represent their countries well. We are ambassadors, representatives of the Kingdom of God. Do we represent the Lord well?
The prize for which we strive is much more important than a gold medal. Eternal life, the gift of God, can be ours through faith in Christ Jesus. We must not let anything distract us from doing His will. We need to read the Bible and ask the Lord to open to us the Scriptures, so we can understand how He wants us to live our lives.
The Apostle Paul's work was not applauded by men. Billions of spectators were not there to cheer for him as he preached the Good News of Jesus Christ. In fact the only time thousands of spectators cheered for many early Christians was when they were fed to lions and other wild animals in the Colosseum. Paul was beaten, stoned, persecuted, and finally beheaded; he did the will of God regardless of the consequences and regardless of whether anyone else approved. Before he died he was able to say with confidence,
"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."
--2 Timothy 4:7-8
Be bold in your work for the Lord and represent Him well. God has wonderful things prepared for those who love Him and confess Him before men.