Confessional Lutheran theology, hagiography, philosophy, music, culture, sports, education,
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Olympic Struggles, Olympic Peace
"Citius. Altius. Fortius.
— Faster. Higher. Stronger." That's the motto of the Olympic Games. When the modern Games were first established, the man responsible for their revival was looking for an appropriate theme. He left us with a sense of unfinished business.
The Games don't approach us with a "been there, done that" attitude. They don't seek to find a peak level of performance and stay with it. We aren't promised the "fastest, highest, strongest" athletes. No, the Olympic spirit seeks always to better previous efforts. It may be one man struggling to top another's world record. It may be one girl reaching deep into her inner resources to exceed her personal best.
The life of the Christian on earth is parallel to this struggle to exceed. While content with our life in Christ, his Word and Spirit compel us to try harder to live according to His will. All of life becomes our Olympics, and Christians are invited to lay everything on the line for the Lord.
God doesn't call us to be couch potatoes. After saving us, He puts us on His "track" — the straight path to our heavenly home. More than any coach or trainer, He's with us every step of the way as we struggle, not against other athletes, but against "against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, (Eph 6:12)" against the forces of Satan himself. We know that victory is already assured for those who believe in salvation through the merits of Jesus Christ. We now push to excel as disciples of our Savior.
This is in keeping with what Ephesians 2:8-10
tells us. Salvation is a gift of God, but in salvation we are converted into God's workmanship to do God's tasks. We live and give as Christians because we are celebrating the end of the race even as we still run it. The prize is already in our possession: We are children of the heavenly Father and heirs of the kingdom.
Now we "fight the good fight. (1 Tim 6:12)" We "press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:14)" We wrestle with our own weaknesses, finding strength in Word and Spirit. Like boxers, we beat our flesh into shape. Our training table is the Lord's Supper — the Supper of Champions — where His body and blood give us nutrition perfectly balanced for our needs. This Supper also reminds us of our ultimate dinner, when we will dine in the heavenly courts, at the Victor's table forevermore.
Even in this life, in the midst of our Olympian struggles, we already have a gift promised by the Games, yet never fully realized — the gift of peace
. Already in ancient times, wars ceased and athletes received safe passage. Again in our time, the Olympics promise a peaceful gathering, and look to the end of non-athletic struggle on earth.
Yet nothing on earth gives or allows us to earn true peace. The slaughter of the Israeli Olympic athletes in 1972 is but one blatant example of how peaceful gatherings do not necessarily indicate true peace. Even as these games continue, so do wars and rumors of war. Nation still rises against nation, and family member against family member. Crime continues. Corruption remains. Cancer kills. On and on reads this litany of horrors.
The only way the effects of these evils are interrupted is through the "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7)" This peace which Jesus gives is not of the world, nor like it. It flows into contentment in knowing that Christ is in control of our lives. It allows us to hand over our anxieties to the One who cares for us (see 1 Peter 5:7
). Death itself cannot scare or stop us, for we continue on into life eternal. In an Easter hymn we sing, "The strife is o'er, the battle's won." Believers are made part of the peace won on Calvary and delivered from a grave burst open.
We carry on with uplifted hearts and consecrated minds and bodies. We are certain of our "Olympic gold," our crown of everlasting life. The lives of the saints involve heaping awards and honors upon the true Victor. All praise, honor, and glory go to Jesus Christ, who is decorated as the One who won it all. Together we — with all the saints, with all the company of heaven — continue to "Crown Him with Many Crowns."
[Scripture quoted from the English Standard Version