Chariots of Fire was on television on Saturday. Filling a gap in the afternoon schedules of bank holiday weekend television, there are still captivating moments. Memories of what was significant on seeing it in 1981 don’t correspond to what seems significant in 2007.
In the long view, the racing becomes incidental to the big issues. The film revived the story of Eric Liddell, the Christian who would not run on the Lord’s Day and whose faith took him as a missionary to China where he was to die in a Japanese internment camp in 1945.
In a gentle and soft Scottish accent, Liddell in the film delivers a sermon to one group of spectators after a race.
“You came to see a race today. To see someone win. It happened to be me.
But I want you to do more than just watch a race. I want you to take part in it. I want to compare faith to running in a race. It’s hard. It requires concentration of will, energy of soul.
You experience elation when the winner breaks the tape – especially if you’ve got a bet on it. But how long does that last?
You go home. Maybe you’re dinner’s burnt. Maybe you haven’t got a job.
So who am I to say, “Believe, have faith,” in the face of life’s realities?
I would like to give you something more permanent, but I can only point the way. I have no formula for winning the race. Everyone runs in her own way, or his own way. And where does the power come from, to see the race to its end? From within.
Jesus said, “Behold, the Kingdom of God is within you. If with all your hearts, you truly seek me, you shall ever surely find me.” If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, then that is how you run a straight race.”.
The profound simplicity of the words strikes to the heart.