The Premiership Cup
It all comes down to ‘one day in September’ - according to Australian Football League (AFL) folklore. No team takes pride in losing the Grand Final. Some time ago, the AFL also awarded medals to members of the losing side. Disgusted at coming second, some players threw their medals into the crowd!
You do not win an Olympic or commonwealth gold medal just for excellence in your field. You gain a gold medal for surpassing yourself, for hardships endured. Paul says he has won "the crown of righteousness" [2 Timothy 4:8]. This was only achieved for service beyond the call of duty [2 Corinthians 12:15].
Paul gained the crown for the price of his life, for having invested all that he had in the gospel of Jesus Christ and for obeying the call of Jesus who said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and the gospel will save it" [Mark 8:34-35].
Men and women who have gained a Nobel Prize "are not conceited in anyway. There is an almost unreal openness, a mood of friendly, almost conviviality they radiate. In order to accomplish what they did, these people remained curious, humble and gentle" [Peter Badge].
Surprisingly, the prizes available to be won by christians are a possibility for any christian. "It does not take much of a person to be a christian but it takes all there is of her/him." The Bible in 2 Timothy details something of what is involved to be a success as a christian. As Paul reflects on his life, as he breasts the tape, as he wins a crown, he says: "I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith, I finished the race." But at what cost did he achieve this? 2 Corinthians 6:4-9 chronicles some of the details of what it took [see also 2 Corinthians 11:21].
What is it that motivated Paul? What is it that can so captivate us that we will give our all to serve and follow the Lord Jesus? The answer is simple. "For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all and therefore all died. And he died for all that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Jesus who died for them and was raised again" [2 Corinthians 5:14-15].
If you live for yourself, you'll never hold the heavenly premiership cup. If you live for the Lord Jesus, motivated and controlled by his love, you will stand on heaven's winners' dais. The choice is yours.
Dr Keith Graham