Good Sports in Philippians

by Nate Powell
For the next four months, we are going to be preaching thru the book of Philippians. It’s a sermon series entitled: “No Matter What”. It could be that a bit of explanation is in order. Why all of the pictures of runners and sports references in the graphics and illustrations in this series?
One of Paul’s best allusions to sport (though not the only one he used) comes in Philippians 3:12-14: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
Here, he uses an example of runners training and pushing themselves to finish the race and compete to get the prize. This is the work of all who are in Christ. We have been saved and can know we are such, yet we press to be more like Jesus every day. This is the work of sanctification that God continues in us, guiding us into good works which he has prepared for us (Eph 2:10). Sports provides so many living examples of training for righteousness and growing in faith that I couldn’t help but bring that motif into the sermon series as a whole.
I currently serve as a coach for FCA, which has caused me to spend quite a bit of time around athletes in our local district. I love seeing their drive to compete, their toughness in training, and their will to win. It is truly inspiring to be around so many state-class athletes on a regular basis. And I can tell you this: if we as disciples do as Paul calls us to, pressing hard to win the race, just as hard as the athletes in our local county train, then God is going to do amazing things in this church and the disciples in our community; so much more than he has already done!
So how will we train? We will resolve to read, understand and apply God’s word. We will pray harder and more intentionally than we have before. And we will strengthen the fellowship of church and the support we provide for the church. When we strengthen and train, we will grow strong in the Lord and be bold for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So ask yourself, “How can I be training today to run this race of faith and finish strong?” I hope and pray that you will press to finish well and be faithful to Jesus NO MATTER WHAT.