We were watching the clip below when someone remarked, “Their bodies are built like men’s!”
She was referring to the athletes’ bodies.
I almost made it to my feet, but I was a second too late. Hot, biting tears tore out of my eyes and I howled out in inexpressible anguish, right there in front of everyone. I was way beyond caring what anyone thought of me. For, at that very moment, I realized the enormity of the price that these athletes had paid to become… priceless.
These great athletes were the best of the best. They were the world champions. But, to arrive there, it was clear they had lost a vital part of their personality. They had lost their physical identity as women!
Biceps like men’s. No catwalk grace. It was the only way they had a chance of competing in this unique race. But at the end of it all, the world lay at the winners’ feet.
I spent the whole day crying. Or probably it was the Holy Spirit crying in me, I don’t know which. But I knew God was reminding me of the price that I needed to pay if I wanted to become a spiritual champion. I realized I had more than a lot to lose. I would need to lose my identity.
The world is wise to its own ways. Worldly athletes know the price they need to pay to win the top race. Businessmen and investors know what they need to do to get more money. Politicians know what strings to pull to get to the White House. Everyone knows what they need to do to arrive at their goal.
It is only the church that is not really serious with its race, the spiritual race. Much of the church is running a different race today. They are running a worldly race. When the church teaches a materialistic gospel, and when its preaching is nothing more than motivational speaking, that is a different race. That is not the race that demands we lose everything.
I haven’t seen any serious athlete running with their favorite 3-piece suit on, just because he or she loves showing off in it. Such an athlete wouldn’t have any chance of winning, unless he was running against non-professionals. But I can assure you that the devil, the world and sin are not non-professionals in the field of spiritual athletics. No one really knows how long the devil has been practicing his trade, but, in terms of years, it is comfortably in the thousands. He is a real professional, and he has beaten many in the spiritual race to eternal life.
There are many things that we need to give up if we are serious about winning the spiritual race that we have began in Christ. But we need a gospel that deals with the heart, for all the things that Christ tells us to die to have to do with the heart. The heart is the crucible of man. This is where God works with man. God does not work outside a man’s heart. Dealing with the things of our hearts is what is called giving one’s life. That is why Jesus told the Pharisees,
“25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also” (Mat. 23:25-26).
Our Lord was telling them to clean out their hearts first. A sacrifice that does not come from the heart is no sacrifice at all. Our Lord, Jesus, gave His life for us. He did so by sacrificing the things of his heart. Here is what the Bible says:
“21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” (1 Pet. 2:21-25).
Our Lord ran the race powerfully. Although reviled and shamefully treated, He did not threaten, nor pay in kind. At no one time did He allow the flesh to have its way in his life. He crucified it. He therefore became our ultimate example, and the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls.
Are we dying to self? How much are we giving away of ourselves, that others may gain?
How about the ministry? How much are we giving for the gospel? In my country, in the 80s, I heard of working men who heard the call of God upon their lives, and they would suddenly stand up from their desk and leave without saying goodbye, never to return. Some were in very powerful positions, but the call of God was infinitely more powerful. I know of such men who are still serving God today.
These were genuine men, who heard God’s genuine call upon their lives. They were unafraid of the consequences, economic or otherwise.
Today, God’s call to serve seems to have been handed to charlatans on a silver platter. Many who come into the ministry today are impostors and wolves dressed in sheepskins. They are people who are out to fill their own bellies.
The reason, of course, is that the foundations have been destroyed, as the Bible says in Psalms 11:3. The Psalmist most likely was seeing into our day. Today, definitely, the foundations of the gospel have been destroyed. There is no genuine-ness in the gospel.
But God had foreseen all this. He therefore prepared a time in our generation when He would reveal His Son to the church. That time is today. Were it not for the revelation of the cross of Jesus Christ, and the grace revealed therein – a revelation that has come just in time – today, we should soon have witnessed the total submergence of Christ’s true gospel under the tyranny of the false gospels of prosperity and materialism making the rounds today.
But praise God, that will never happen. God by His grace has brought us the revelation of the cross. The revelation of the cross has brought light – the light of the knowledge of Christ. There are many areas that the church needs to wake up and run the race – and win big. And it is possible, thanks to the Spirit of Christ and his sufferings.