A Kingdom Lost

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aklthumbFor anyone even remotely interested in the world of competitive cycling, the last three months would have been a confusing rollercoaster of emotions—albeit with few highs and very deep lows. The revelations of rampant drug abuse, illegal blood transfusion, doping and elaborate schemes at avoiding detection by the vast majority of the front of the peloton have shocked even the most ardent of fans. Even if these diehards are committed to loyally supporting their cycling heroes, the evidence, both from scientific tests and personal accounts, is so overwhelming and convincing that no one is able to offer any counter. What makes it even more astounding is the fact that such a pervasive culture of cheating existed (exists) for such a long time. For this rouse to continue for as long as it did required the support and the “blind eye” of all riders, management, sponsors and cycling federations. So many people, so many lies!

As Christians, we should not be as surprised as most others are at the flagrant corruption and deception that has been uncovered. In fact we have ample biblical precedent to see that this big cycling scandal is simply a replay of what is commonplace in sinful human history. Our study of Chronicles and the parallel passages in Kings provides ample proof of this exact point. How is it possible that a noble, wise, peaceful and blessed king can lose the plot so dramatically, that he and the people he leads can subsequently be accused of the vilest offences and most wicked pagan idolatry?

Surely the truth doesn’t lie far from the biblical texts which state that “the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5), and, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes”(Judges 17:6).

Because of how the Lord responded to these statements, and in light of the great cycling scandal, let us draw some points of learning and practical application into the context of the situations we live and work in.

Be sure your sin will find you out

Despite the elaborate schemes and vast sums of money thrown at avoiding being “bust” for using illegal performance enhancers, the cheats have been identified and discredited the world over.

It is startling to read of the lengths to which the riders went in order to avoid being caught. Flying to a secretive doctor working on a small island off Spain every two weeks for clandestine blood transfusions; microdosing erythropoietin (EPO) directly into veins rather than injecting it under the skin where it hangs around longer; secret compartments in team vehicles for transporting drugs; cat burglar like messengers on secretive drop and go missions—all to no avail.

The Lord knows your thoughts, never mind the goings-on in the quiet seclusion of your hotel room!

Don’t build your treasures on earth where moth and rust corrupt

The individuals involved in this doping scandal did wonders for the profile of the sport of cycling and for the fame of their name and the size of their bank account. At least one of these successful riders was able to demand a fee of $100,000 for speaking engagements. But now, no one is going to be doing anything in association with these guys: Their treasures have corroded and are full of motheaten holes.

Christian, don’t let this be true of your life and legacy. Build your treasures in heaven, where they are imperishable. Forget about the applause and wealth of men and rather invest in getting their souls to heaven.

Find your sufficiency in Christ alone and flee idolatry

It is so easy to become enamoured and swept up by the melee that surrounds attractive people and things. But cars crash and heroes fall, leaving you with an awkward tattoo and a cupboard full of really weird clothes. Little children, keep yourselves from idols!

Unconfessed sin and guilt are cruel masters

A recurring theme in the “confessions” of the various riders and coaches implicated in the doping scandal is the sense of relief they experienced in coming clean. Like David’s bones that waxed old when he kept silent about his sin, these men give details of a dry and barren life of secrecy and deceit. From the outside they appear to have everything under control, living an idyllic life, but in reality they have no meaningful relationships and they keep hurting people close to them because that is what regarding iniquity in your heart does!

The more lies you tell, the more you eventually believe them to be true, the more robust your delusion becomes, and the more difficult it is to actually tell the truth. When given the chance to confess, or whenever the Spirit convicts you of sin, confess and repent and see the weight of that burden lifted. Accept the consequences of your transgression, for it is sure to be more bearable than living under the rule of guilt and denial.

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