Going for Gold
“The wind is all over the place, but Ben Ainslie is managing to hold his course. As he approaches the mark the Dane is right behind him, coming up on the starboard side, but Ben is too quick to let him by and puts in a fast roll-tack to port, taking him…. Taking him well off-course! Ben makes straight for the finish line, without rounding the mark first! Now he’s cutting right across the path of the other competitors, completely ignoring Racing Rule 10 that says that boats approaching from starboard have right of way. Wait, he’s not even headed for the finish line – he caught sight of the medals prepared for the award ceremony in Portland Harbour and it looks like he wants his medal without finishing the race! Well, he won’t get his gold that way…”
Thankfully, that isn’t how it happened. Ben sailed the course in such a way that he won the race, rounding all the marks on the course, and fulfilled all the requirements to qualify for the gold medal. Many other athletes won gold medals too, breaking records in track events because of their dedication to years of training, and because they ran in such a way as to win the prize:
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last for ever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
Their focus was on the race: their technique, the perfect application of the skills of their sport, the concentration of years of training applied in one all-out effort. Get that right, and they win the prize.
The sacrifices are immense; it is all or nothing in the Games. And the course was set a long time ago.
Called to Worship
Jesus’ call for Simon & Andrew to follow came right after a different invitation for Jesus to prostrate himself, deny his father and worship Satan in return for the glory of all the world’s kingdoms. The object of worship was not the prize; Jesus may have wanted the kingdoms, but the method was to worship another “god.” In order to get what was offered, he had to live a different way.
“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
The temptation was subtle; rather than worshipping the prize, the condition was to submit to another master, one who would lead the way down a dark path of rebellion. If we think the idols we need to reject are just the attractive things we desire more than Jesus, perhaps we need to think again.
So what is worship? Is it adoration of the thing we strive for, or acting on that desire in such a way as to gain it?
Paul offers one definition of worship in his letter to the Christians in Rome:
“I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.”
For many years I wondered what a living sacrifice looked like. Was it living before it was offered, but then disappeared up in smoke as it was handed over? I understood that it meant I should give everything – heart, soul, mind, thoughts, desires, intentions – everything. But what happens next is unpacked in the following verses. They describe a lifestyle marked by the character of Jesus; choices made by one who follows the example of The One who promised to live in us, and expresses his life in our place.
The sacrifice is living out the life within.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”
Coaching Toward the Goal
We help clients to simultaneously focus on a clearly identified and meaningful goal whilst breaking down progress into actionable steps. The goal is distinct from the action. Even in helping clients achieve balance, where the focus is on being rather than doing, coaching results in an outcome resulting from changes made in thinking and awareness.
We worship when we follow Jesus by keeping our eyes fixed on him in adoration, and live out the transformations he creates in us as we walk with him every day.
“For in him we live and move and have our being.”
Now it’s Your Turn
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to answer the following questions in the comments section:
- What insights flow from exploring worship through the metaphors of sailing or of coaching?
- How does Hebrews 12:1-2 apply to your daily life? “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified® Bible,Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)