Christianity: Not a Monobob!

During the Olympics this week in Beijing, I have been intrigued to watch the women compete in a new addition to the sledding competition. The “monobob” is a women-only event so far and it debuted in 2016 during the Youth Olympics. But. this year it has been mainstreamed into the official Olympic program as an exciting new venue! Kaillie Humphries, a Canadian-American slider, has become the first to win a Gold Medal in the monobobbing event.

The Thrill of Sledding!
Image credit:

When I was a kid, we lived up a pretty steep elevation just at the western edge of Vandalia. The actual street is Randolph, but back in the day, it was referred to by the locals as “the old shoe factory hill." My dad’s house, our old home place, is at the peak of that “hill” today! During the years of my childhood, I spent hours sliding down the sidewalk along that snowy and slippery slope during some pretty ferocious Illinois winters. Watching the Olympic bobsledding reminded me of how I fantasized about being a competitive sledder!

I would start my “mono" or solo sledding adventure at the side of our house with a good run and land on my belly for the duration. If I was successful in steering around traffic at residential driveways and street intersections, I could sled nearly three blocks without interruption all the way down to where the vacant shoe factory building stood tall at the foot of the hill. This was my goal each and every time and it was exhilarating when I was able to complete my run! Success was like winning a medal and it made the snowy-cold trudge back up the hill, pulling my sled behind me, a whole lot easier!

What’s involved in successful sledding? Focus, skill, persistence, and stamina are surely on the short list! Winning Gold must require years of commitment, practice and raw determination to succeed! Can we compare any of this effort to Christian discipleship? I don’t want to imply that self-effort or works save or keep any of us saved, but we do have our part in this walk by faith. With heart, soul, mind and strength, we are to love God, and love our neighbor, near and far, as we love ourselves. (Mark 12:30-31). This necessitates participation by believers!

However, in a very real sense, nothing is “mono” or solo about the Christian faith! God’s grace puts us into a saving relationship with Him through Christ. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith…not from yourselves…not by works.” (Ephesians 2:8-9). And we learn pretty quickly, as a new Christian, that we do not live the Christian experience in our own strength. Paul gives this powerful affirmation for negotiating the challenges of our faith walk, “Christ in you, the hope of glory!” (Colossians 1:27).

“Christ is our only hope” expresses the essence of the Christian faith! This hope is by the gift of God’s gracious love and calling. Yet, it can only be realized through the strength of the Indwelling Christ! Christ in you and me as believers is the key! When we devote ourselves to Him, depend only on Him and live focused on His will and plan for our lives, He gives us the strength we need to negotiate the hills and the valleys of this life.

Keep on keeping on… in Him!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.


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