Christ Abides in My Actions
As Paul sat to write the words we will read today, he may have glanced out the window of his room along the busy streets of Corinth, watching the flow of athletes relentlessly pursuing Greek athletic glory. Each day they devotedly streamed into the Greek gymnasiums to train their minds and bodies to be completely given over to mastery of their sport at the local Isthmian Games that fed the Olympic Games of the 1st Century.
Paul lived in the land of the Olympics. Paul lived and worked each day among the sights and sounds of athletes that were a part of the already ancient tradition of Olympic Games. In the middle of the 1st Century as Paul served in Corinth just outside of Athens, he was writing about sports. The Olympics were already ancient as he wrote, having been launched for over 800 years; tens of thousands of spectators had made their way to the Games and no doubt had passed Paul on the roads of Greece.
Anyone, including Paul, who lived in Greece in the 1st Century had seen many athletes in either practice or performance. Comparing the best of the best in sports, Paul exhorts those early followers of Jesus to participate in the Christian life the way that the Greeks competed in the Olympic races. As Paul wrote the Epistle to the Romans from Corinth in the middles of the 1st century AD he only had to look out his window to use profoundly Olympic terms. In Romans 12.1-2 Paul write about a body presented in unreserved devotion to Christ. He says give your body to Christ; keep Him in control; fight anything that hinders you from pleasing Him. He used a blend of worship ideas (a sacrifice offered) and athletic images (a living body devoted) to convey the way we are to look upon life for Christ while we live on earth.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies (Those words frames what I would call our invitation to the ultimate games - living life for the Glory of God).
a living sacrifice, (total devotion)
holy, (set apart) acceptable to God, (obedient to Him)
which is your reasonable service. (the true offering of devotion and worship is our body in service to Jesus)
And do not be conformed to this world, (resist the breaking of any of the rules the Heavenly Umpire has laid down for your life)
but be transformed (get in shape, cut the junk, work out until you are able to compete regularly)
by the renewing of your mind, (exercised each day for godliness and fruitfulness)
that you may prove (experience and win for your life's work)
what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Get the gold medal at Christ's Bema Seat!)"
All of the metaphors Paul uses for the Christian life allude to opposing forces we struggle [agonidzomai] against. Hence, his word pictures of warfare, races, struggles, and building. So all of life is a struggle [an agony] to please Christ.
Please copy and paste the following URL into your browser bar to see the list of metaphors Paul uses for the Christian life: http://www.dtbm.org/sermon/christ-abides-in-my-actions/