Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

I Finished the Race

2 Timothy 4:7

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

RayMcDThe Olympics are over for another cycle. The USA got the most metals and the most gold metals. Maryland came in third I think – if they were a nation. It was fascinating to watch. I even watched the Olympics – at times – rather than an Orioles game or a Ravens pre-season game.

During the Olympics we witnessed many exciting and touching moments. Two Olympian icons participated in their last (they say) race and both won gold during their relays (Michael Phelps & Usain Bolt). Michael ended up with more gold metals in his career than any other athlete (it isn’t even close) – with a total of 28 metals – 23 of them gold. Usain tied the record with 9 golds in Track and Field.

The scene with New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin and American Abbey D’Agostino is what the Olympics is all about – as they tumbled together during a preliminary heat and cared for each other as they crossed the finish line – injured. It tugged at the hearts of many and really shows off the Olympic spirit.

Helen Maroulis became the first U.S. women’s wrestler to ever win an Olympic metal – and it was gold. Upset at the judge’s decision – two Mongolian wrestling coaches decided to express their anger by stripping down to their underwear and throwing their clothes at the judges. South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk treated us to one of the most surprising moments of the games- when – racing from lane number eight – he blew Michael Johnson’s previous record for the 400-meters out of the water. Claressa Shields became the first U.S. boxer – male or female – to win gold medals in back-to-back Olympics. Simone Biles won four gold metals in gymnastics and would have won a fifth (my opinion) except for a slip on the balance beam.

Each athlete at the games came to win – they came to compete with their very best. They came to run or swim or whatever to the finish line of their events. Paul often uses the Olympics in his writings – his Epistles. Today’s passage comes from a section where Paul is encouraging a young pastor – Timothy – to hang in there and run a good race.

Here is today’s passage in partial context. 2 Timothy 4:1–8 – 1 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

As Paul’s life and ministry are coming to an end – he tries to encourage Timothy to stay the course – to stick with the truths that he has learned. Just this week we talked in Bible Study about some of the changes in our culture and in the church. We talked about the absence of absolutes in our lives these days and how the culture has negatively – at times – impacted the church – rather than the church positively impacted the culture.

There certainly are some cultural changes that can help the church reach the lost and build up the saints. But too often – Paul’s warning has come true in the church today – for the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

Paul urges Timothy – and us – to run the race to the finish line – I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. We are encouraged to not allow the culture around us to negatively impact our faith – the truth we have learned. We are told that the prize at the end of our race is more than the mere awards that go to the Olympians. Our prize will be a lasting reward – a crown of righteousness. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Cultural changes like style of worship – location of worship – screens and multi-media – hymns and songs – what clothes we wear – etc. are acceptable and needed to keep the church relevant. Cultural changes that go at the core of our Christian faith should be pushed aside and we should remain faithful to the truth we have been taught. The Word of God is still our guiding document – our primary source of truth – and the Holy Spirit is still God with us today!

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

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August 24, 2016 - Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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