As I contemplate the wisdom of running in the Sunderland 10K tomorrow, I am also contemplating five times the Bible draws on running to impart wisdom…
1 Corinthians 9:24
Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it.
This will be my first Sunderland City 10K. I have studied the map, but I have not run the course. I have read through the instructions concerning where to arrive, and at what time, and what I need to do before, during, and after the race. But I have not done any of this before; and, in fact, no one has, entirely, because the ‘usual’ instructions have been adapted in response to Covid-19. I am hoping that there will be plenty of stewards and marshals, and that the course will be well-marked. I have studied maps before, and always found that nonetheless I depend on others to help keep me on track.
In the Greco-Roman world, the Corinthian Games were second only in prestige to the Games at Olympus. The imagery of athletes competing for the victor’s wreath would be entirely familiar to the congregation listening to Paul’s letter being read aloud. They have boasted in their freedom. Paul affirms freedom, but with a necessary corrective: the exercising of freedom requires self-discipline. Athletes must not only train, hard; they must also compete according to the rules, or be disqualified. So, in exercising freedom, they too must run away from that which would diminish a life of love, and pursue that which would be in keeping with such a life.
Such a big part of enjoying running is enjoying the company of those I run with. They are a caring community, supporting one another, helping me to press on, in life as well as racing. I give thanks that they choose to exercise their freedom in this way.
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