By Jonathon Hollandsworth
As a diabetic, my doctor tells me to exercise once or better yet twice a day, to fight to keep my blood sugar low (the diabetic’s enemy = high blood sugar). So I try to swim or walk daily. Today, as I was working to extend my walk farther than the day before, I determined that I wanted to extend my service to the Lord here on the earth for as long as I can. I want to stay behind enemy lines for Him. Then, my mind turned to STF’s teaching on “Behind Enemy Lines”, and the United States Navy’s SEALs came to mind.
Soldiers and Athletes – Behind Enemy Lines
The Navy SEALs are soldiers and athletes—they are trained to be both. They act in those capacities behind enemy lines, under the most stressful and strenuous conditions, often alone, and separated from their home by great distances.
2 Timothy 2:1-5 (REV)
(1) “You therefore, my child, be strengthened in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
(2) And the things that you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful people who will be able to teach others also.
(3) Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
(4) No one serving as a soldier entangles himself in the affairs of this life, so that he will please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.
(5) And also, if anyone competes as an athlete, he is not crowned unless he competed according to the rules.”
Here God tells us that we are each supposed to be “a good soldier of Christ Jesus” and “if anyone competes as an athlete…,” he must compete according to the rules. When I enlisted, the first thing the Army did for me was to drive me to get into great physical condition. I did not know how to be a soldier, I had to learn—just as I had to learn how to play football and all the other formal athletic training I received in school. As a Christian, I had to learn how to try to live as one.
2 Timothy 2:15
Make a diligent effort to present yourself approved before God, a workman who does not need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
There may be certain inherent characteristics that make for a good soldier or athlete, just as we are naturally built for holy spirt, but we have to learn how to hone our skills to be the best, for we desire to be our best for Christ!
The memories of the latest Olympic Games still linger; the idea of people coming from all parts of the world and all walks of life to compete with one another in sports, instead of to do harm, is an ancient ideal and concept. Unlike natural athletes, spiritual athletes are specially energized by holy spirit to run their race, jump the hurdles of life, swim the length of the pool of life’s challenges, and even vault over the obstacles the Adversary puts before them, for the Lord.
We Christians do not run to compete in the games for a Gold Medal, but rather for the Prize, the Crown….
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (REV)
(24) Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? So run in such a way that you attain it.
(25) And everyone who is competing in the games exercises self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible.
(26) Therefore, I do not run like one who runs aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air,
(27) but I treat my body harshly and make it my slave, lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified for the prize.
Hebrews 12:1-3 (REV)
Therefore, seeing we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily entangles us, and let us also run with endurance the race that is set before us,
Seeing the finish line…
(2) fixing our eyes on Jesus, the leader and finisher of our trust, who, because of the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, thinking nothing of the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
We must maintain focus…
(3) Yes, think carefully about him who has endured such opposition from sinners against himself, so that you do not grow weary, becoming exhausted in your souls.
As Spiritually Energized Athletes for Lord behind enemy lines, we have both a unique opportunity and challenge:
1. We know we are behind enemy lines
2. We know who the enemy is
3. We know where the enemy is
4. We know the race we need to run
5. We know how to run it
We know all of this because we have great “opposition research and intelligence”—we find it in our training manual, the Word of God, as He guides us with prophecy and wisdom. Both the Navy SEALS and the best athletes have training manuals. Athletes practice and SEALs conduct drills. SEALs are on constant alert, and athletes are ready to spring into action as soon as they step into the Game. The key to winning the prize in both scenarios… The SEAL has to be willing to step onto the helicopter, and the athlete has to be willing to step into the Games.
Where Christians are the same as the SEALS and differ from most athletes, is that we don’t have to go it alone. Our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus, always wants to run, swim, jump, paddle, lift, dive and even ski with us! Most outstanding is that He is already an expert in our event because he has Run the Race before and already won!
Winning the Race, receiving the Crown
Athletes for the Lord – unlike natural athletes—are specially energized by holy spirit to compete and win…because of God’s promises and purposes!
2 Timothy 4:8
“In the future 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.”
The Crown, the “Gold Medal” of Righteousness—which will be given to us when we are all brought together by God through the Lord Jesus Christ—is there at the end of our Race. But that is not today. Today, we are in the Race, standing for the Lord, Spiritually Energized to perform as Athletes for the Lord’s plans and purposes, behind enemy lines!
*The Revised English Version® (REV®) is the New Testament version by Spirit & Truth Fellowship International®