The Message Stick

By G. Lee Southard, PhD

In ancient times a series of couriers would carry information from one destination to another through a “message stick”. It was the surest way the intended recipient received a message.

Ancient Greece adopted it symbolically in the exciting 4 x 100-meter relay as an Olympic event. The race is a team of four runners, each sprinting 100-meter legs and passing the baton (symbolizes the message stick) to the next sprinter at the end of each leg. The first sprinter in the last leg to cross the finish line means his/her team is the winner. During the passing of the baton, each sprinter must focus and exercise proper technique to pass and receive the baton. The passing sprinter must balance speed with the receiver while placing the baton into the opposite hand of the receiving sprinter, who cannot see the baton but must firmly grasp it while matching the speed of the oncoming runner. Dropping the baton during any three passes results in the team’s disqualification.

The relay is remindful of how the Apostle Paul often characterized the Christian life (Timothy 4:7; 1 Corinthians 9: 24-25; Philippians 3:14). He described it as a race to win the prize, eternal life with God.
Like passing the message stick, each Christian receiving the message must live their life, run their leg of the race, and correctly pass it to the next generation. The race is lost if the Gospel is not passed on. Present and future generations will be deprived of the prize.

In the 400 relays, the team has been under a coach’s instruction on passing the baton properly. Similarly, our coach, God, has instructed us to pass his teachings on to our children (Deuteronomy 6: 4-9.) using the technique he taught us through Jesus (Mathew 28: 18-20). The “message stick,” the Gospel, never gets dropped if we are diligent as parents and grandparents to ensure the passage of the message stick.
Sadly, the message stick fails to pass, and Christianity loses. Evidenced by the loss of youth to the Christian church and the subsequent decline in Christians, the church loses, and America loses.

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