“Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. . . .because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.” Hebrews 10:32-34
When I was in high school I played soccer, which was a strange sport for a guy who didn’t like to run long distances. Being vertically challenged (I’m 5’3″ in two pair of thick socks), I was constantly falling behind the taller guys in the long runs. Because my legs were (well, still are) short, I was quick and usually the first one to the ten-yard line but most always last in the mile. My coach would yell at me for not running fast enough, and I would yell back, “I’m running twice as far as anybody else ‘cause I’m taking twice as many steps!” For some reason, he never bought that excuse.
We had to be in excellent shape because in the average soccer game, a player could run up to six miles, and soccer continues to be among the world’s most physically enduring sports. I’m sad to report that I have not maintained that level of conditioning since I left high school. But it was great while it lasted.
Christians also need to be in shape to stay in the “contest” (vs. 32). The Greek word for contest in this verse is athlesis. It refers to an athletic competition and is the source of our English word “athlete.” As Christians, we must not just remember when we were at our best, but we must keep at it and stay that way. We are not to be like the athlete I turned out to be – one who keeps in shape and maintains a peak performance for only a few years, only to grow old and spend time reminiscing about the good ‘ol days when we were on top of our game and the best in the league. Rather, we are commissioned not only to stay in the race, but to run it better and win it grander as our years mature and our love for God and His people expands. We should be the only athletic team in the universe who grows stronger in mind and spirit as the years mature us, so that the enemy knows without a doubt that the toughest players in the game are the “seniors.” Continue Reading