Article: Ready, Set, Go! | Benjamin T Mathai

Tokyo hosted the last Summer Olympics this year, and everyone witnessed how such a mega event took place despite the global pandemic. People saw so many sportsmen and women compete in various events to become the best in the world. To these Olympians, winning a medal at the Olympics is what matters the most. To them, standing on the podium is the culmination of all the pain, sweat, and blood shed during the previous four years.

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However, no matter how successful they are, each and every sportsman and woman feel in the depth of their heart, there is more to life than just sport. Tensely swaying between victory and defeat, success and failure, suffering the inevitable set-backs, many people ask: what keeps them going? And there are some who have discovered the foundation which has proved trustworthy in all of life’s storms – the Bible. Why has an encounter with this book led to the greatest victory in the lives of numerous sports people? Let us put ourselves in the position of these champions and learn how to face life.

Be on the starting line to win:
Spectators always know better, but it’s no use to them. Only those in the arena are entitled, and that is your first decision. Do you want to be one of those who only speak about faith and do not practice? Or would you prefer to be in the midst of things with everything you are and everything you have? Faith is not a question of knowledge or belief, but one of trust. You do not have to be a pilot in order to travel by plane than to be a theology student in order to be a Christian. But to get started is essential – and only you alone can decide to do so.

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There is no qualifying standard:
Perhaps you have already begun to count the points which you can use for qualification. Forget it! That does not work with God. He does not ask about your achievements but willingness. Jesus asks, “Do you want to follow me?” You can refuse or accept this offer. And no decision is actually to decide. If He is the Creator of your life, then He knows all your wishes and cares, your hopes and longings. He knows your good intentions just as He knows your failures, and He knows only too well that you need more love than you deserve. I don’t know why God loves me so much but I feel it every day.

You must accept the rules:
It’s logical – whoever goes to the start, accepts the rules. But what are they? The Bible is not an encyclopedia with answers to all of life’s questions. Anyone who takes it seriously though, will find a whole new way of ‘thinking’ – and this will also gradually change their ‘behaviour’ and their ‘being’. You will be surprised – a lot is quite different from what you imagine. You need to understand, for example, what the Bible says about sin. Sin is not just a wrong action but a state, not just an offense but an attempt to live without God. For this reason, God’s invitation to you to place your whole life in His trust is, at the same time, His offer of forgiveness.

The battle is already won:
How come? Let me explain. God knows that we are overstretched in the end in our struggle to live a good and flawless life, which is why he has taken on this struggle for us (John 18:36 – 19:37). I know no one who has struggled as He has. At the first glance he seemed to be defeated, and pinned to the canvas. Even worse, they nailed his hands down – those hands with which he had healed, helped and blessed. But he did not give up out of love for us. Jesus “Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24). What looked like a devastating defeat at that time, is the decisive victory for you and me. It is unbelievable that he did it for us even before we asked.

Jesus as the coach:
The conditions have been met by Jesus. But he does not impose himself. Only by consciously inviting him into your life, do you have an unbeatable partner. He won’t solve all your problems, but struggling with him on your side is much more fun! Once Jesus has resolved your past, he would also like to structure your present and your future. He, who knows your strengths and weaknesses like no other, wants to take you under his wing. You have the best chance of prospering with him in control. Like a good coach, he will make the best use of your potential.

A new perspective:
Whoever follows this Jesus Christ, will not only have more from life but will ‘have life’. Jesus is the only one who has overcome death, the last barrier, and who has given our life an eternal perspective. And You, too, can live with this certainty. Whatever you achieve, all this depends on you, yourself, or on your personal decision. It is good to give Jesus’ call careful consideration. It will change your life. You will no longer be concerned just about yourself, but also about new interests and aims. The change is so radical that the Bible refers to a “new life”. What an opportunity it is!

Like a sportsperson, you are used to being the focus of a decision. But now you are in front of God as a person who holds your own fate in your hands. And if you now go to the starting line, it will be a decisive break for you. Take on life as a champion of God!

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