When I was a lad there was only one winner in any competition, from soccer matches to spelling bees, or from playing marbles on the playground to school dux. Nowadays it seems that everyone is a winner. Where have all the losers gone? But what happens to competition if all are winners regardless?
Unlike Western society today, there will always be a clear winner in a competition between a spider and a fly, an anteater and an ant, a cat and a mouse, and God the Creator and man the creature. Charles Darwin’s observation was that only competitive creatures would survive – competition primarily being about food, habitat, and reproduction. By exchanging the magnifying glass for the electron microscope contemporary Darwinism now views all competition through the clouded lens of gene transference. Thus the propagation of the species is now all about the survival of genetic material from one generation to the next. Therefore to the neo-Darwinist every creature is a winner because every creature belongs to the collective gene pool that has, against the odds, survived. Hooray! Let’s pass out prizes to any piece of DNA or RNA willing to accept them – especially those that make mistakes and get it wrong!
The Christian sees things differently to the above albeit simplistic synopsis of the drift of a branch of contemporary Western thought. For the Christian the role of the passing on of codified genetic information from one generation to another is all very interesting. But the chief purpose of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever – whether competing in soccer, spelling bees, playground marbles, or becoming school dux. From science to singing, at work, rest, and play the Christian glorifies God and will continue to enjoy Him forever. For Scripture says, ‘Therefore, whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.’ 1 Corinthians 10:31.
The 1981 movie ‘Chariots of Fire’ depicts the true story of Eric Liddell, the ‘Flying Scotsman.’ Specialising in the 100 metres Liddell sought to compete in the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris – to the glory of God. To the consternation of many he refused to dishonour God by racing in the event he had trained for because it was scheduled to take place on the Christian Sabbath. In turn God honoured Liddell. Liddell, who was not expected to win, enjoyed taking out the gold prize from the Men’s 400 metres – a non-Sunday event. An American had slipped a piece of paper into Liddell’s hand while Liddell was in the starting blocks – a quote from 1 Samuel 2:30, ‘…them that honour Me I will honour…’ As sparks fly down the starter’s gun barrel so Liddell blazed toward the finish line as the whole Olympic Stadium exploded to the glory of God!
Every Christian is a winner. Not because of any mysterious Evolutionary ‘Survival of the Fittest’ gene pool, nor because we are stronger. We are winners because our Champion has run the good race representing us. He has won it – for us! He has tied up our main competition, our adversary, even the strongman! ‘Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ Hebrews 12:1-2.
The American theologian RC Sproul witnessed a major event in his life as a seventeen-year old, ‘I will never forget the last words my father spoke to me. We were seated together on the living room sofa. His body had been ravaged by three strokes. One side of his face was distorted by paralysis. His left eye and left lip drooped uncontrollably. He spoke to me with a heavy slur. His words were difficult to understand, but their meaning was crystal clear. He uttered these words: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.” These were the last words he ever spoke to me. Hours later he suffered his fourth and final cerebral hemorrhage… My father finished the race. I was not even in the starting blocks. He ran the race for which God had called him. He ran until his legs crumbled. But somehow he kept going…’
Dear Christian, Jesus says, ‘Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.’ Revelation 3:11b.