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See You At The Finish Line!

An Easter Message from our CLC President

“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after
preaching to others I myself should be disqualified”

(1 Corinthians 9:27)

Sports fans celebrate their team’s victory with enthusiasm and joy. One of the most moving sporting experiences for me was the 1980 US Hockey Team’s gold medal victory at the Olympic Games.

However, this victory and any other sporting win that could be mentioned cannot compare with the victory which Jesus won over death when He rose victorious from the grave on Easter Sunday morning.

In the ninth chapter of 1 Corinthians the Apostle Paul compares the Christian life to a race. The Olympic Games began in Greece. Many Greek cities had their own local games. In Corinth the Isthmian Games were held every other year and were second only to the Olympic Games in importance.

These Greek athletes trained to win a perishable laurel-leaf crown. All this effort and excitement resulted in the momentary thrill of victory. In our day, of course, big money has made athletics a business where athletes compete not only for gold medals but for large salaries and big endorsements.

Perhaps the closest thing to the pure amateurism of the Greek games would be local community races. Almost every community has 5k and 10k runs. For most of these runners the object is not so much to win the race but to do the best they can and finish it.

Even for those races the runners put long hours into training, often running 15-25 miles a week. It takes a certain amount of discipline to stick with the program. When the finish line is crossed, the training and the need to give up everyday comforts was all worth it.

The Christian life is worth it when we finish our race and cross the finish line to receive the crown of victory.

The Prize of Our High Calling

The Apostle Paul recognized the possibility that, having preached to others, he might yet be disqualified and lose the prize of his high calling. He hoped to see those he had preached to at the finish line and together with them receive the crown of life.

Paul’s prayer is the serious prayer of every pastor who recognizes his own weaknesses and failings, “so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” What a terrible thing to contemplate that, having preached the gospel to others, one fails to obtain the final victory himself!

Instead, Paul in effect told the Corinthian believers, “See you at the finish line!” In the Christian life, everyone who completes the race is a winner. The prize of our high calling is the gift of eternal life. We compete for an eternal crown that lasts forever.

The wonderful thing about this race is that Jesus has already run it for us! Jesus became man so that He could take our place. He resisted all the very real temptations of the devil. He carried the burden of all our sins and guilt. In His substitutionary death, He conquered sin and death.

The glorious Easter message is “Jesus has won the race!” “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). Jesus has already crossed the finish line as the winner, and His victory is our victory. All that is left for us is by faith to keep
our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

Then when we finish our race, we will receive the crown of life. Easter teaches us to look beyond the struggle of the training (daily family devotions, regular prayers, church attendance) and the pain of the actual run (sickness, family problems, discouragements). Easter teaches us to look not at our feet and where we are in the race or how many hills are left to run. It teaches us to keep focused on the finish line. For the believer death means the finish line has been crossed. Earthly struggles are over. The crown of eternal life awaits.

Some of those I ran with used to say, “See you at the finish line.” Like Paul, I say to you this Easter, “I hope to see all of you at the finish line.” By the grace of God, through Jesus’ Easter victory this hope will be fulfilled on the great day of the resurrection of the
dead to life everlasting.

“See you at the finish line!”