Tuesday, June 25, 2013

THE RULE-ABIDING ATHLETE (Part 3 of 4: When the Going Gets Tough: Metaphors of Faithful Christian Service in Difficult Times)

LEFT: Antonio Margarito's illegal hand wraps confiscated by the California State Athletic Commission just before the Margarito-Mosley bout (Jan. 25, 2009) RIGHT: The then undefeated Miguel's Cotto's devastated face when he fought Margarito (July 26, 2008). It is now highly suspected that Margarito used the same illegal hand wraps in that fight. Cotto faced Margarito again in Dec. 3, 2011. This time, Margarito was badly beaten forcing the referee to stop the fight in the 9th round.

2 Timothy 2:1-6
"You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. 3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs--he wants to please his commanding officer. 5 Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops." (NIV)

From my memory, here are some of the most scandalous cases in sports:
  • 1988: Ben Johnson at the Seoul Summer Olympics (click HERE)
  • 1992: The Zamboanga City Little League Baseball Team (click HERE)
  • 2008- 2009: Antonio Margarito matches against Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosley (click HERE)
  • 2012: Lance Armstrong (click HERE)

Just like the soldier imagery, the athlete imagery is also one on Paul's favorites. In 1 Cor. 9:24-27 for instance, he admires two things about athletes: i) their "giving my all" attitude, and ii) their rigorous preparation. But there are some athletes who want the honor and glory of victory yet they want to achieve it not by hardwork and discipline but by breaking the rules uncaught.

They wanted glory and honor
Yet their deeds brought shame

Let us do life and ministry according to the manual given to us. In tough times, it is very tempting to abandon biblical principles. We keep silent have to speak up; we agree when we have to oppose -- all in violation of what his Holy Word tells us to do.

In this world, Christ is despised together with his cross. They tell us, "Abandon that old rugged thing and I will give you a medal. Throw that old rugged gospel away and I'll give you a trophy. Honor awaits you, just abandon Christ and his gospel."

Some will take the offer; they will throw the gospel away. "Give me my trophy" they say. "Give me my medal" they say. But in the end, it is not honor they will reap but shame. But those who are wise will sing: 

"To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share." (~George Bennard, 1913)

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