From Genesis to Revelation the concept of competition reigns as part of the economy of God as the unfolding story of the Salvation of men and women takes us on a journey from Adam and Eve through the final triumph of righteousness in The Revelation.
This is a cursory glance at competition scenarios in the Book of Genesis alone !
The Serpent and Eve
Eve and Adam
Cain and Abel
The Tower of Babel
Lot and Sodom / Gomorrah
Abraham and Pharaoh
Joseph and his brothers
Competition appears to be part of human DNA.
In the Ancient world we see that competition takes a giant leap forward in that it takes on a sporting theme with the Marathon.
The marathon is a long-distance running event with an official distance of 42.195 kilometres (26 miles and 385 yards), that is usually run as a road race. The event was instituted in commemoration of the fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides, a messenger from the Battle of Marathon (the namesake of the race) to Athens.
By the New Testament era the sporting competition had gained such recognition that the Apostle Paul likens the Christian life to an athletic race. (1 Corinthians 9: 24-27)
The modern Olympics was re-instituted in 1896 in Athens and it was in part to redirect the energies of nations competing in war to that of the physical powerhouse art of athletics (Sport).
It is claimed that Australia's strength as an athletic nation is partly due to this same statistical factor, that whereas European nations exercised their energies in war, our young men and women their found releases in sport.
The New Testament illustrates competition in the temptations of Jesus and then classically in the Cross followed by the Resurrection.
The Apostle Paul speaks of a cosmic competition of principalities and powers (1 Corinthians 9) and again in Ephesians 6 verse 12: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places]."
Competition is front and centre in Biblical thinking with the greatest prize of all at steak, every individual's eternal destiny.
But it’s not only in the sporting endeavour do we see mankind's DNA in competition, we see it every day in business and in love. The old saying, that love and war are the two arenas where there are no holds barred. Finding a partner in life has all the hallmarks of competition. English aristocracy was always about matching wealth in their children's marriages so as to maintain wealth and privilege.
Theologically therefore, as competition is within the very essence of our being, the question becomes how do Christians put a positive direction to this powerful inherent energy. The Scriptures are very clear!
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html