by John Barnett

Christ Abiding in My Actions
John Barnett
Romans 12:1-2

As Paul sat to write the words we will read this morning, he may have glanced out the window of his room along the busy streets of Corinth, watching the flow of athletes relentlessly pursuing Greek athletic glory. Each day they devotedly streamed into the Greek gymnasiums to train their minds and bodies to be completely given over to mastery of their sport at the local Isthmian Games that fed the Olympic Games of the 1st Century.

Paul lived in the land of the Olympics. Paul lived and worked each day among the sights and sounds of athletes that were a part of the already ancient tradition of Olympic Games. In the middle of the 1st Century as Paul served in Corinth just outside of Athens, he was writing about sports. The Olympics were already ancient as he wrote, having been launched for over 800 years; tens of thousands of spectators had made their way to the Games and no doubt had passed Paul on the roads of Greece.

For 2800 years (except for the lapse from the 5th century to the 19th century) the world has equated the Olympic Games with the best of the best. Human bodies that have been mastered by a disciplined mind to run, jump, swim and perform extraordinarily well in athletic contests.

Anyone, including Paul, who lived in Greece in the 1st Century had seen many athletes in either practice or performance. Comparing the best of the best in sports, Paul exhorts those early followers of Jesus to participate in the Christian life the way that the Greeks competed in the Olympic races. As Paul wrote the Epistle to the Romans from Corinth in the middle of the 1st century AD he only had to look out his window to use profoundly Olympic terms. In Romans 12:1-2 Paul writes about a body presented in unreserved devotion to Christ. He says give your body to Christ; keep Him in control; fight anything that hinders you from pleasing Him. He used a blend of worship ideas (a sacrifice offered) and athletic ima ...

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