“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” – Acts 20.24From Dave Atkinson:
I was following the news reports this week about the safety measures for the Tokyo Olympics that are due to take place this summer, having been postponed from last year due to the covid pandemic. It seems that athletes, as well as the local population, are uncertain as to whether it is safe to go ahead. But a number of athletes have been taking part in a dummy competition at the main stadium to test the adequacy of the safety measures. For now, the focus is less on finishing the race or winning medals but, rather, whether they should start the race at all.
On several occasions in the New Testament, the Christian life is described as a race. In Hebrews 12.1 for instance, we are encouraged to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” The apostle Paul uses the race illustration in some of his letters, but it is his words as recorded in Acts 20.24, that, having just seen the reports about the Olympics, caught my attention.
As Paul explains in this verse, the race is the task that Jesus has given him to tell people about the good news of Jesus; and how God changes lives by his grace in and through Jesus. Paul’s race had certainly not been an easy one. From Acts 9 onwards, Luke records how Paul faced distrust, opposition, hardships, serious beatings, and imprisonment. He is heading for more of the same in Jerusalem, his next stop, where there will be plots to kill him. Court trials, shipwrecks and further imprisonment are to come.
But as he leaves Ephesus to head for Jerusalem, Paul is clear that every moment of suffering is worth it because naming Jesus is far more important than anything that he will face as he keeps his eye on the finishing line of the race.
The races in the Olympic stadium may or may not go ahead but, if we have committed our lives to Jesus, our race goes on. In the excitement of all the things we will be able to do again as further covid restrictions are lifted, our priority remains to name Jesus through our words and actions – testifying to the good news of God’s grace.
Only the Lord knows when each of our part in the race will come to an end but in the meantime ask him for a refreshed passion and energy and equipping to run for his glory. And remember, Jesus is at the finishing line waiting for you.