Rev. Lynda Hepler
1 Corinthians 9:19-27


“…but only one receives the prize.”

A few years ago, there was a commercial for KIA. The car they were promoting had won best in class in all testing.  The ad was about how second place doesn’t count on the field of competition. A common practice among little league teams nowadays is to award every child a participation trophy rather than award the best team or outstanding players. The ad brought forth lively discussion among parents as to whether we are failing our children in a society where “everybody wins.” The debate stems around how self-esteem and accomplishment should be taught and how the negative effects of failure extend into adulthood.

Paul’s writing to the church in Corinth makes me ask the question about us as Christians. Are we running the race to win it or to complete it? Are we seeking the imperishable first place cup of life or simply a participation ribbon? Nothing less than winning the race has us dangerously teetering along the path of what Dietrich Bonhoeffer describes as “cheap grace.” Bonhoeffer wrote in The Cost of Discipleship, “cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate… such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.”

To call ourselves a Christian does come at a cost. A cost that the disciples paid by dropping their nets to follow a stranger and for Paul to “become all things to all people.” Jesus has called each of us to proclaim the gospel, the good news of Jesus to the world. It is the race we are to run. Jesus has shown us how to run the race and Paul emulated it in his ministry. Jesus met people where they were; the poor, the lost, the leper, the sick, the shunned and offered them grace. As Paul says he became all things to all people so that  “I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.” Jesus ran the race and won. He defeated death and offers us eternal life if we are willing to run the race to win.

Thought for the Day: Am I willing to run the race in such a way that I may win it?