Discipline required to be disciples of Christ
St. Paul deftly employs the analogy of runners competing in a race as an example of how we are to live as disciples of Christ.
Just as it takes a great deal of discipline for an athlete to prepare his body for a race so, too, must we, as Christ’s disciples, take great care in preparing our souls for the race of holiness. We must be willing to make the self-sacrifices necessary if we truly desire to win the imperishable crown of eternity with God.
The life of being a spiritual athlete for Christ is not an easy one. In fact, Jesus promises us it won’t be. "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me," he says. Further, he states that following him will be a cause for division.
His bluntness concerning discipleship reveals a great deal about his own mission as well as our own. It will be a struggle requiring fierce determination and self-discipline with all of our energies directed toward holy endeavors.
Runners in a race are anxious to reach the finish line. They run looking forward and never looking back so as not to stumble and fall. They have one goal in mind, and that’s to finish the race victoriously. Spiritually speaking, the disciple of Christ, likewise, must have the same eagerness of mind and singleness of heart as the athlete.
A disciple of Christ cannot dwell on the past remaining burdened by past sin. Rather, disciples look to Christ to be unencumbered by their sin and remain focused on the hope found in the cross.
Do you ever find yourself slowed down by guilt and shame focused on your sin rather than the grace and mercy found in the cross of Christ?
Well, if you do, I pray that today will be a new day for you. I pray that today you will come to better understand that you are a loved child of God, and the Father desires nothing more than to fill your heart with knowledge of this truth.
Father Walter Nolte is pastor of St. Bernard Parish in Omaha. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.