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“Coming up, the shocking news that four teams have been suspended in the badminton scandal,” the reporter announced.  Then after half a beat he added these words, “I never thought I’d ever use those two words in the same sentence–BADMINTON SCANDAL”  

What is it about badminton that makes it immune to the regular scandals that so often accompany competitive sports?  My thoughts went whirling:  badminton to me is (at best) a wildly unpredictable game with that birdie that no matter how squarely you hit it never goes where you think it’s going.  Surely this couldn’t be a doping scandal, extra strength wouldn’t master that feathered object….so what could it be?  Maybe someone had discovered a way to put something in the birdie that would alter its trajectory, your team (because of practice) would know what to expect but the other teams would not.  The flights of fancy just got wilder and wilder.  Never once did I imagine the actual truth, the scandal involved four teams that “threw” their games.  Not just throwing them in a little way, but actually standing right up by the net and tapping the bird into the net ….. ooops.  And doing this over and over again until the crowds booed  and the officials warned.  

Certainly we expect more from Olympic athletes, we expect them to try and to try HARD.  We expect 100% effort.  Oh let’s be honest we expect 200% effort.  We expect the athletes to win every time, and with those expectations we are not surprised at doping BUT we are completely appalled at a lackluster effort.

What about in our service to God?  Do we give 100%, or 200% or do we deliberately fail to put in enough effort to get noticed.

The other day I asked a favor from someone and asked him to pray and get back to me.  His response….. NO NEED FOR PRAYER.  Then he not only did the favor, but made suggestions on how he could be helpful in following up.

When it comes to the way in which we live out our faith, and respond to our calling as servants in God’s kingdom, Paul uses the metaphor of competition.  Look at the advice he gives to the various churches and their leaders…..

2 Timothy 4:7-8 

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

Hebrews 12:1-2 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Timothy 2: 5 n athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.

Acts 20:24

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

2 Timothy 4:6-8

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

 

My reflections last night revolved around the number of times I have just put in a small effort, and done less than my best as one of God’s servants.  What blessings have I missed in the process?   How many others went unblessed because of my lackluster efforts.  

Throwing a competition may be bad in our eyes, but how often do we reflect on the ways in which we “throw” the life and ministry to which we are called.  

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We are called to the heavenly race–what will our response be?

 

 

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