The Christian Paralympics
2 Oct 2004, Pr George Porter
(George is Thornleigh's Church Pastor)
TITLE: THE CHRISTIAN PARALYMPICS
THEME: Humanity's Disability - Christ our Only Hope
Scripture Reading Joshua 1:1-9 New Living Bible
"… I promise you what I promised Moses….No one will be able to stand their ground against you as long you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. …Be strong and very courageous. Obey all the laws Moses gave you. Do not turn away from them, and you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of the Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed. I command you- be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
The first Sermon [4 Sep 2004, "Run For Your Life"] was about the Olympics as mentioned by Pr Paul in Hebrews 12:1-3. We referred to Chapter 10 and 11 where we noticed the Christian race is a race or run for eternal life by faith in our Coach Jesus Christ. We run for Gold. Like previous runners mentioned in Chapter 11 we will not win the race in this life. The only human to win Gold - living without sin and obtaining eternal life was The Man Christ Jesus. We run for a better country and city - Heaven. We run to the heavenly sanctuary by faith. We all compete but are only complete IN Christ. No one receives the prize yet. No one receives the promise of Gold until Jesus returns to get us over the finishing line at the finals. That's resurrection for eternal life.
Today I wish to address the Paralympics which have currently convened in Athens.
This is a wonderful event with wonderful human beings as contestants. These disabled people defy the odds and compete for gold. These are people who have not allowed their unfortunate past to stop them from competing and achieving in their particular fields of skill. They are people with positive attitudes who have been trained by capable people who have gold as their goal. People who are determined to enjoy life to the fullest of their ability inspite of what life in this world has dished up for them. People who can perform with amazing tenancity. People who have Special personal Coaches who understand their particular disability.
On Friday, the 24th September this year, I was visiting the Garden Show in the Domain in Sydney. The first freebee I was given was the day's issue of the Sydney Morning Herald. In my preparation for this sermon I had asked God previously for a top illustration to help us develop my theme today. There it was on page 38, written by Jessica Halloran. (Cycling), Title - "Sprinters walking on air after teammate's act of self sacrifice." I quote below.
(Bold-Italics is mine for our purpose today)
" An emotional Chris Scot sat under the Athens velodrome stands with his head in hands before the team sprint final on Wednesday. Scott had already won a gold medal in the individual pursuit and he wanted to give someone else an opportunity to race, so he had sacrificed his spot in the gold medal race. The Australian sprint team of Greg Ball, Peter Brooks and Peter Homann went on to defeat the US trio………
Afterwards, Ball, Brooks and Homann paid tribute to Scott. 'People wonder why we are No.1 in the world- today was a good example of that,' Homann said. 'We had four riders vying for three spots. Chris Scott won gold earlier in the week. He stood down and let somebody else go in front of him who hadn't won a gold on the podium. 'That's why he's the Australian Paralympic team captain. He makes the right decisions….that's why we are so successful. We work as a team.' …..
Scott's time was 0.04 of a second better over the distance than Homann's but he wanted to give him a chance to stand on the Athens dais. 'I decided I'd been up there and had the glory, I'm getting a medal, anyway, so I thought he deserved to be up there, it's his last Paralympics,' Scott, who has cerebral palsy, said. 'A lot of credit has to go to Chris Scott. He's a true friend, we love him dearly,' Brooks said. …………."
THE PARALYMPIC HUMAN RACE
This reminds us all that we are all athletes in the 'human race-Olympics. Since the fall of our first parents Adam and Eve, we are all spiritually disabled contestants. We are all Paralympians in the human race for life and Salvation. Since Adam sold us into sin we have been disabled with inherited tendancies to sin. This has dished out to us suffering and death. We are so inherently disabled and contaminated with evil it inhabits our very genes. We all, as disabled competitors in the human race for life, need a coach to develop our competitive skills if we are going to succeed as honourable citizens in our society. We need to achieve goodness, honesty and courtesy as we compete together.
Let us take a look at humanity since Adam. View ourselves in Scripture. Paul in Romans 3:10-12 NLB says, (Paul is quoting from Psalms 14 and 53), " As the scripture says, 'No one is good - not even one. No one has real understanding; no one is seeking God. All have turned away from God; all have gone wrong. No one does good not even one.'" Again in Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard. The prophet Jeremiah also emphasized this fact, that we are disabled by sin. Jeremiah 13:23 , he wrote, "Can an Ethiopian change the colour of his skin? Can a leopard take away his spots? Neither can you start doing good, for you always do evil. ( "accustommed to evil", KJV; "taught" Hebrew).
OUR QUALIFIED COACH
On the positive side in opposition to the doom and gloom, is our Coach Jesus Christ. Paul says of Him in Romans 3: 24 NLB, "Yet now God in His gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins." WOW!! What a Coach. Remember the article about Scott. Christ has also "already won gold". "he wanted to give someone else an opportunity to race" and win eternal life. "he has sacrificed his spot" in heaven and took on our humanity and won the race without sinning - for us. He in his humanity already has gold and wants us to have gold too. "He stood down and let somebody else … who had'nt won gold on the podium." What a great Coach we have. He is the human race "Paralympic team Captain. He makes the right decisions." That is why He is our Saviour and Coach.
(see Sermon Summary "Run for Your Life", 4 Sep 2004)
I believe Pastor Paul mentions the Olympics of his day in Hebrews 12:1-2 . It is in this Bible reference where we discover the only Coach who is qualified and worthy to make us competitive in the human race of life. He states in Hebrews 12:1-2 NLB "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us." We are the spiritually disabled human race, but in Christ God has given us a life to live by faith in our Coach Jesus Christ, who makes us winners. It is the race for salvation life, "we do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish." He guarantees gold. There is no silver or bronze in His race. Gold is eternal life with Him in spite of our disabilities.
About our Coach , Pastor Peter in Acts 4:12 has this to say, There is salvation in no one else. There is no other name in all heaven for people to call on to save them."
No other coach is qualified to coach and save us. He already has gold. He lived a sinless human life and died and was resurrected to prove He has gold. He returned to the podium to receive gold and now shares it with us. He is the Lamb that is Worthy, Revelation 5:6-14. So it is , "Christ in us the hope of glory", Colossians 1:27. Jesus made is clear Himself in John 14:23, "All those who love me will do what I say. My father will love them, and we will come to them and live with them."
What is more our Coach/Captain will not forsake or abandon us. In Joshua 1:5-9 He said this to Joshua and He says the same to us, "I will not fail you or abandon you……be sure to obey all that is written in it. (The Law/Bible), Only then will you succeed. I command you - be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged . For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." God never forsakes or abandons. We are the ones who forsake and at times abandon God! That is why we are disabled. When Moses was handing over leadership to Joshua he passed this message on to the people of his day. Deuteronomy 31:6 "Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid of them! (enemies) The Lord your God will go ahead of you . He will neither fail you not forsake you." The same Captain and Coach is our Saviour today. He will not forsake or abandon us. He wants Gold for us and has guaranteed us gold. All we have to do is obey His instructions and persevere in His strength and power, in spite of disabilities. Samuel, in another wonderful speech to the people of God made the same point. Read 1 Samuel 12. In particular he said in verse 20- following, " Don't be afraid, Samuel reassured them. You have certainly done wrong, but make sure now that you worship the Lord with all your heart and that you don't turn back on him in any way. …. The Lord will not abandon his chosen people, for that would dishonour his great name,……be sure to fear the Lord and sincerely worship him. Think of all the wonderful things he has done for you."
OUR COACH ENCOURAGES US - THE DISABLED
Jesus Christ our Saviour/Coach encourages we feeble mortal humans. In Hebrews 12:12-13 NLB, it says, " So take a grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky (feeble) legs. Mark out a straight path for your feet. Then those who follow you, though they are weak and lame , will not stumble and fall but will become stronger."
Again verses 14-15, " Try to live in peace with everyone, and seek to live a clean and holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you will miss out on the special favour of God." In 13:5-6 He assures again, He will "never fail " or "forsake you". (Quotes Deut 31:6,8 & Ps 118:6) Our Coach , "is able to keep you from stumbling." Just keep your eyes on Him. He promised in Matthew 28:20 NLB, that , " I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Christ our Coach personally made this invitation and declaration to all disabled humanity. "Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me calling and open the door, I will come in , and we will share a meal as friends. I will invite every one who is victorious to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne." Revelation 3:20-21 NLB. WOW!! Gold on the dais. Remember Scott. "I decided I'd been up there and had the glory" "I thought he deserved to be up there." That is exactly what Christ is saying in verses 20-21. As Brook said of Scott, "A lot of credit has to go to Chris Scott He's a true friend, we love him dearly." All the credit goes to Christ our Coach. He is our true friend and we ought to love Him dearly.
Yes remember Scott, and never forget your Saviour. What is mentioned of Scott is true of what Christ has done for disabled humanity.
Remember: Already won gold; Wanted someone else to win gold; sacrificed his spot forever; stood down and let somebody else win gold on the podium; paralympic captain makes the right decisions; we work as a team; I had been up there and had glory; he deserved to be up there; a lot of credit; He's a true friend and we love him dearly.
The Gospel Good News is that we will win Gold through Christ our Coach if we persevere in our weakness. Christ empowers us by His Holy Spirit to do good. We will win the human Paralympics if faithful Christians. Keep training. Keep your Coach. There is Gold. You will sit on His throne.
PARA = BESIDE Run with Christ beside you in tandem with our Captian/Coach.
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