About two weeks ago, I came across a news article in The Straits Times that caused me to reflect on our commitment to Christ.
The article was about the swimmer, Michael Phelps who won the most medals in the entire history of the Olympics- twenty-two to be exact.
However, the writer went on to describe how Phelps felt when he announced his decision to retire from swimming after the London Olympics. Phelps said that for once he was freed from the clock. He could wake up at any time and go any where he wanted. Since he took up swimming as a young lad and went on to train for the Olympics, his whole life has been controlled by the clock and revolved around the swimming pool. From the moment he wakes up to the time he gets to bed, he has to focus on the training and preparation for the race. All these many years, he felt that he was living a life of a prisoner bound to the water and the stopwatch. In brief, he is a slave to the sports and all the things that go along with it.
He went on to stress that it was not that he did not enjoy swimming but that he got more joy out of winning and achieving his goals.
As I thought about Phelps’ commitment to his call as a swimmer, my mind was turned to another person in the New Testament – the great Apostle Paul.
I was reminded of what he said, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.” (Rom. 1:1, also Phil. 1:1 and Titus 1:1 where the same word for servant is used).
Paul gladly made himself a bond-slave of Jesus Christ. In fact, he used the word ‘doulos’ in the Greek which describes a person of the lowest rank in society- one who is even lower than a household servant or maid. A ‘doulos’ is bought from the slaves’ market and from that day forward, he belongs to his new master. He has no rights and privileges of his own. He is treated like a piece of furniture in the master’s house.
Such was Paul’s commitment to Christ that he was not ashamed to be His lowly slave. He gladly gave up his freedom in order to give his best for the Master.
What about us? Are we committed to Christ as Paul was? Are we willing to give our all to follow our Lord and Master no matter what it may cost us?
No wonder, we are not victorious in our Christian race. Phelps gave his very best and was so focus in his goal that he became a swimming legend.
Paul did the same. He said, “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3: 13-14).
May we emulate the Apostle’s example to forget what’s behind us, focus on the immediate task before us, and then give all we’ve got to gain the prize of our heavenly calling in Christ.
We can do it, if we only look to our Captain of our souls for the strength needed to run and finish the race (Phil. 4: 13).
Rev. Mark Tay