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THE REAL OLYMPIANS: Seeing the race of faith as athletic endeavor fuels momentum
Today the flames will be lit for 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games in Olympia, Greece. The flames will be carried in a Torch Relay to arrive in Vancouver on February 12,2010, just in time for the Opening Ceremony.
Paul wrote to a Hellenistic culture—one steeped in Greek philosophy, culture, and athletics—and so for the Christians of his day, marathon foot races run by Greek Olympians provided the perfect metaphor for the endurance, longevity, and persistence needed to finish the race of faith. A new understanding and exhilaration for the Christian life, pursued with the vigor of a spiritual athlete, will help readers to endure their problems and suffering. As a result, Gregg hopes to stoke the fires of passionate living for God and encourage readers to look forward to what is ahead.
Just as a marathon is a long, one-person endurance test, so too is our walk of faith. And like athletes in training and competing endure suffering and setbacks from exercise—strained muscles, sore bodies, etc.—the Christian also suffers when living for God in the midst of a perverse world; but it is beneficial to their spiritual growth as a workout is to the athlete.
The author has a unique way to help Christians see themselves as they truly are: players in an Olympic game, by helping them to visualize themselves in a spiritual athletic competition which has never been done before in a Christian book. Gregg examines the rich metaphors Paul gave us in the Epistles: 1) the lighting of the Olympic flame is reminiscent of the fire of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the “divine” Opening Ceremony; 2) when the book of Hebrews says to “run the race with patience,” it refers to actual marathon foot races popular in the Greco-Roman culture; and 3) just as successful ancient Olympiads received crowns made of laurel leaves, believers who run the race of faith to the finish line will receive crowns of gold. A Bible school graduate, gifted Bible teacher, and Bible curriculum writer, S.E. Gregg is the author of the best-selling book Evangelism Counseling and the salvation tract “God Became a Man.” The Christian Olympics sprang from a newspaper article Gregg wrote titled “The Christian Olympics are still going on!” Gregg lives in the Philadelphia, PA area and is available for interviews.