Welcome to “Athlos” a weekly blog that examines pillars of personal excellence and regularly brings together the worlds of Christian spirituality and sport.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…”-Matthew 5:11-12
When rejection is right in your face, it is hard to look beyond the pain. Just over a year ago, this was the reality faced by tennis ace, Novak Djokovic who could not participate in the prestigious Australian Open because of non-compliance with their Covid-19 protocols. Imagine arriving in a country where you have had good memories and then being told, “Sorry you can’t stay here anymore.”
Shame. Anger. Disappointment. Bitterness. You name it, Novak probably felt it. It would be a stretch to call this persecution, though, because all the Australian authorities did was to enforce their laws. Yet, one year later, Djokovic returned to that very country and won his tenth title, tying him with Rafael Nadal for the most individual men’s Grand Slam titles. Understandably, he was overcome with emotion as he won this year’s championship. His reward followed his rejection.
It is no different with the spiritual life. When you take a stand for what is right, proper and true according to the divine definition of holiness, you are guaranteed to face opposition. Jesus said to his followers that allegiance to his ethical and moral standards would lead to persecution. It comes with the territory of walking the narrow road.
Unlike with Djokovic, there is no promise of immediate rewards on the spiritual journey. Often those who choose the path of integrity and wholesome living do not see the fruit of their devotion here and now. It is a faith investment, a belief that there is something greater than this transient life to look forward to.
Are you anticipating life beyond this one? Have you decided to live with eternity in view, even though you have responsibilities in this present world? The brevity of life should motivate us to keep our eyes on a prize that is more valuable than anything we can ever earn on earth. At times, you will be offended, opposed and ridiculed. However, remember this: the reward typically follows the rejection.
Eternal rest in the Divine presence and a soul at peace are rewards worth waiting for.
If you were inspired by this blog, please consider sharing it with one other person today. To learn more about these and other related themes that promote the cultivation of an integrated inner self, read UNBEATABLE! which is available on Amazon in print and as an e-book.