READINGOld Testament: Jeremiah 23:16-32
Psalms: Psalms 118
New Testament: 1 Corinthians 9:19-27
Gospel: Mark 8:31-9:1
Evening Psalms: Psalms 145
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize...I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
(1 Cor. 9:24-27)
I consider myself an avid runner, by which I mean I ran a marathon in 2009 and still like to kid myself that I’m in pretty good shape. (Round is a shape.) But Paul and I could never go running together. He runs in such a way as to get the prize; I run in such a way as to avoid collapsing in a wheezing heap. He does not run as someone running aimlessly; I do run as someone running aimlessly (“Ooh look, a coffee shop!”). He makes his body a slave; I make my body a hot chocolate and let it binge watch the Gilmore Girls on Netflix. Paul would need the patience of a saint to go jogging with the likes of me.
Of course, what Paul is getting at in his letter to the Corinthians is self-discipline. To me, it’s about not reaching for that fourth chocolate chip cookie, or third martini, or hurling an un-Episcopalian word at the driver who cut me off on the Beltway. He’s urging me to identify my goals—with Christ at the center—and to pursue them with all the energy, passion, and resources available to me. He’s reminding me that Christ gives me the freedom to think differently and to challenge myself to make those goals happen.
Paul’s letter also reminds me that loving God and others is the primary law that should govern my life. God gives us a writ to love other people without first demanding that they conform to a certain lifestyle or hold certain political opinions. He challenges us (me) to love as He loves. Boy, does that require self-discipline (Beltway bandits, Cowboys fans, Congress, you get the idea)! But that’s what God expects.
I pray that 2015 will bring me into a closer relationship with Christ, a clearer sense of His goals for me, and an ability and inclination to love others as He loves us! Amen.