Early Morning, Olympic Rings, Lake Wendouree, Ballarat
While continuing my thoughts from films allow me to introduce Eric Liddell. Some of you may recall Eric was featured in the award-winning film, Chariots of Fire. While the film focuses on Eric’s distinguished athletic career he gave it up at its high point to become a missionary to China. His decision became visible after the 1924 Olympic Games where he refused to run on a Sunday then afterwards winning gold and creating a world record in the 400 metres.
Twenty-one years later, at age 43, Eric was nearing the finishing tape in his final race on earth. During his time as a missionary Eric wrote three religious works, two pamphlets and a longer work, A Manual of Christian Discipleship, which circulated in manuscript form in a Japanese internment camp, in his beloved China, where he died of a brain tumour on 21 February 1945.
In his longer work, now published under the title, The Disciplines of the Christian Life, Eric explains his purpose in writing:
• To place before people the limited amount of Christian knowledge that every Christian should have;
• To help people apply their knowledge to daily life; to live according to the light they have;
• To develop the devotional life so as to create basic Christian thinking on subjects of conduct, action, outlook and attitudes.
He also explains that the key to knowing God is obedience. He says, “Obedience to God’s will is the secret of spiritual knowledge and insight. It is not willingness to know, but willingness to DO (obey) God’s will that brings enlightenment and certainty regarding spiritual truth.”
Jesus in John 17:7 states, “Anyone who chooses to do (obey) the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.”
While reading Eric’s book I was continually reminded of chapters 11 and 12 in the book of Hebrews. In chapter 11 the writer lists the people of faith who have gone before and then in the opening verses of chapter 12 he writes, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Eric Liddell is another numbered among the great cloud of witnesses.