Our church recently had a Mario Kart tournament, and it got me thinking about how much we can relate Mario Kart back to our relationship with Jesus. I love how in Mario Kart, you get to choose your character. There are heroes, villains, and some characters who just look cool, though I have no idea if they are good or bad.
What if you were to enter that video game to play among your Mario Kart favorites? Would you be considered a hero or a villain? Most of us would probably say we are heroes. We are all pretty good, right?
We might like to think so, but the Bible tells us that none of us is good. We all have a sin problem, and we all fall short of our perfect God. If we picture life as a race, and the prize is spending forever with God in heaven, we automatically would be disqualified from winning the prize simply because our sin separates us from God. It would be like driving your Mario Kart right off a cliff and not having your hang glider safely carry you across to the other side.
The only one who can safely carry us to our prize is Jesus. His death on the cross paid the price for our sins. We are forgiven. But what does that really mean to be forgiven?
There was this guy in the Bible named Saul. He was pretty famous, or infamous for being a villain. He had it out for Christians, and he did everything in his power to hunt them down, put them in jail, or even kill them. It was like he had all the red power-up shells, and he was launching them left and right.
Then, one day, Jesus appeared to Saul, and long story short, Saul realized he was a sinner. He called himself the worst of sinners. Saul believed in Jesus and repented of his sins (which means he said he was sorry and with God’s help would make better choices). Then, Saul dedicated his life to following Jesus and doing God’s will. He had been forgiven of his sins and he chose to live the rest of his life for Jesus.
Ironically, Saul’s decision made him a villain to the Jewish leaders who wanted to stop the message of Jesus from spreading. You could say, though, that Saul (who started going by his Roman name of Paul ) became a Bible hero.
In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul said we need to stay focused on the prize. While regular athletes race for a prize that will fade away, he said we need to race with purpose for a prize that lasts forever. He said in Hebrews 12: 1-3,
“… let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.[a] Because of the joy[b] awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people;[c] then you won’t become weary and give up.”
This race in life can be hard, but I love that God gave us the ultimate power-up: the Holy Spirit. Do you know how a Mario Kart player near the back of the pack sometimes gets a bullet power-up that launches the player toward the finish line? Well, the Holy Spirit is even better than that! The Holy Spirit fuels us and enables us to do God’s work. He leads us and guides us. He gives us wisdom and helps us to win the race God has called us to.
And, one day, when you meet Jesus face to face, you will be able to echo what another Bible hero, Timothy, said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith…” (2 Timothy 4:7).