Pastor Ken Bleakley, Larbert Baptist Church

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“I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3 v14).

Sports fans must think they’re in heaven! This summer has been described as one great sporting festival.

We’ve already witnessed Spain retaining their ‘crown’ as European football champions by winning Euro 2012.As the current world champions some now claim the Spanish have assembled the best football team in history.

We also have the spectacle of the Olympic Games upon us with all the accompanying ‘hype’ and excitement. What an achievement it is even to participate in such a prestigious occasion.

If that weren’t enough, we have all the usual events as well; The British Grand Prix, Wimbledon, International Cricket Tests, The Open Golf Championship, Tour de France etc. etc. etc.

Many of us endured the agony of watching Andy Murray come so close to realising his dream of a first tennis Grand Slam victory. His post-match interview revealed something of the hard work, passion and emotion involved in such a herculean effort. To compete for a prize in any top sporting championship requires discipline and dedication.

The Apostle Paul picks up on this principle and applies it to the Christian life and experience. If athletes put so much hard work into winning an earthly prize – how much more effort ought we to apply to achieve an eternal reward? Paul says, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”. The picture he paints is one of an athlete with his eyes firmly fixed on the finishing line, straining with all his might to cross that line and not allowing himself to be distracted from his goal.

His illustration ought to prompt each of us to ask ourselves some searching questions: How serious am I about my Christian life? How disciplined am I as I run the Christian race? How much effort am I expending to obtain my eternal prize?