If you don’t like sport then this summer will have been hard for you. With the World Cup in June and July, and the European Championships and a compelling Test cricket series against India as I write, there has been plenty to enjoy for those who love their sport and lots to try and avoid if you don’t. And that’s before the great sporting contest of the St Mary’s vs Christ Church 20/20 game on Sunday 2 September at 2 pm on the Common! (Do come along – it should be good fun!)
Whilst that may not reach the pinnacle of all sporting achievement this summer, high levels of sport does require sheer determination from those who compete, and the determination to push the boundaries of what can’t be done until those things become achievable. As we watch athletes of so many different sports I am reminded that we are born to strive, and as we strive to become better followers of Jesus Christ, more loving, more generous caring people I think that we, like those athletes we have witnessed over the summer, become more fulfilled.
Christians don’t expect that their life of discipleship will be easy; it can be hard to love your neighbour, it requires commitment to sustain a life of prayer and worship, it can sometimes feel quite challenging to be generous, and yet we are called to do all these things by a God who was prepared to give up his Son for the sake of humanity. Surely the image of Jesus on the cross (St Paul reminds us) is the reason we should keep our eyes on the finish line in our race of life, because out of that situation comes the hope of the resurrection and being one with God, which is our ultimate fulfilment – how we were created to be.
In sport the majority of competitors will face failure at times; but the greatest sporting stories are the stories of those who have overcome failure and ultimately achieved success.
Their example gives those of us who have embarked on a faith journey great encouragement, and points us to the level of determination we need to succeed in our lives, especially when things go wrong. One other reflection from the sport is that although athletes compete with each other there is often a palpable sense of support and mutual encouragement as they strive to achieve greater things.
Whilst the church is not essentially about competing with one another it is a group of people who encourage one another in the journey of faith, and that mutual support sustains and refreshes us as we follow countless millions of Christians on the journey of faith following in the footsteps of Christ. May you be blessed in your own journey of faith and may we continue to encourage one another as we journey together.