Kingdom Come

The Sports Analogy

The New Testament uses a number of athletic metaphors in discussing Christianity, especially in the Pauline epistles and the Epistle to the Hebrews. These metaphors draw heavily on the tradition of the Olympic Games, and this may have influenced New Testament use of the imagery.

The word athletics is derived from a Greek word meaning "to contend for a prize." And prior to the conquests of Alexander the Great (332 B.C.) and the subsequent spread of Greek, or Hellenistic, culture, athletics and games were uncommon in Palestine, especially among the Jewish people.

The metaphor of running a race “with perseverance” appears in Hebrews 12:1 and related metaphors appear in Philippians 2:16, Galatians 2:2, and Galatians 5:7. In 2 Timothy 4:7, paul writes “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

In 1 Corinthians 9:24-26, written to the city that hosted the Isthmian Games, the metaphor is extended from running to other games, such as boxing to make the point that winning a prize requires discipline , self-control and coordinated activity.
Ancient Greek race at the Panathenaic Games, illustrated on a Greek vase. Like the Isthmian Games of Corinth, the Panathenaic Games continued into early Christian times.
Thy Kingdom Come is about this Spiritual Life, these Spiritual Games so to speak. Thy Kingdom Come is not about showing up at Church every Sunday, but more about showing up and competing in your spiritual life every day. It is about winning the prize. It is about the discipline required to compete, the self-control necessary to grapple with, the coordinated activity necessary to stay in the running for the prize.
Paul emphasized the discipline, training, and focus required for those events, and applied those qualities to the spiritual life. He used the same basic metaphor in writing to Timothy, telling him, "Train yourself for devotion, for, while physical training is of limited value, devotion is valuable in every respect, since it holds a promise of life both for the present and for the future" (1 Tm 4:7-8).

Before we develop this analogy let me make clear three pertinent ideas:

  1. I may call it a game, but there is no play about it
  2. There is a Championship Prize for the winners
  3. I study from the King James and the Amplified versions of the bible, but I love the modern poetic ring of the Message Bible.

In Hebrews the twelfth chapter, the Apostle Paul describes the Race of Faith. He provides us three very strong considerations for how we should play out our Christian lives.

  1. The Saints are watching, (So great a cloud of witnesses)
  2. You must play with endurance. (If you are not tired, you aren’t playing to witn)
  3. Always look to Christ as your example. (Don’t get caught looking at LeBron, Jordan, Kobe or your Pastor, they are running their own race)

The quintessence of Christianity is a relationship with Jesus the Christ. This relationship is developed through Discipleship, in the context of Fellowship, expressed in Worship, fleshed out in Ministry, and recreated through Evangelism. “We go Deeper through Discipleship, Warmer through Fellowship, Stronger through Worship, Broader through Ministry, and Larger through Evangelism.” (Rick Warren, Purpose Driven Life)

Running the Bases

Here in Kingdom Come, the spiritual foundation is paramount to scoring runs in baseball. In order to score, you have to touch all the bases. The goal is not first base or third base, the goal is always to score the run. That means you have to touch all the bases. I’d rather be slow and thorough and touch all the bases than be disqualified for missing a base.

So going forward, it is my hope that Kingdom Come will help you matriculate around the bases. No matter which base you are on, you will find help for that base and motivation to get to the next base, and to eventually score the run.