The summer Olympics of 2012 was a spectacular display of athletic achievement, performances, triumphs, world records and victories. Yet, there were also great disappointments, sorrow, drama, mistakes and disqualifications. As some athletes reveled in victory, others wept in heartbreaking defeat. The humanity of the Olympics was completely exposed, before our eyes, without anything being left out as the theme of “going for the gold” reverberated to the ends of the earth.
Storyline after storyline talked about the incredible sacrifices athletes endured to be part of the Olympics games. We heard about the years of training and hard work, overcoming injuries, and strict diets, not to mention separation from families and social life. The politics involved and the daily workloads practicing skills, routines and often mundane workouts all were part of the stories as well.
And, for what? A medal. Gold, silver or bronze—marks of worldly achievement. And then what?
Every four years, athletes around the world aim their lives at a two-week explosion of performance and competition. Yet, as long as it takes, in reality it is a fleeting vapor of time. All the meaning and celebrity, acquired by excruciatingly intense effort, can quickly fade into “yesterday’s news.”
Christians should understand this. True followers of Jesus Christ should understand the need to sacrifice and the years of hard work and training that takes a lifetime. The Apostle Paul wrote, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).
Paul described that a true Christian must be like an athlete, but one who is striving for a different, more important prize. “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we (true Christians) for an imperishable crown” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).
World-class athletes train and practice for the pinnacle event that is called the Olympics, which occurs every four years, but is over in a flash. For one trying to please God, however, the race of endurance lasts a lifetime. And, there is no turning aside when it comes to striving for an imperishable crown.
God does not say that being a Christian and living a Christian life is going to be like walk in the park. Christians are always going to be tested so God can measure their faith. While Olympians train for medals of gold and silver and bronze that can be tarnished, Christians are training for an incorruptible inheritance that does not fade away.
We read: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:3-7).
Paul wrote: “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:14). As much as we admire the dedication of those athletes who sought a prize in the 2012 Olympics, it is important that we keep our eyes on the right goal, using a Christian’s viewpoint and effort to succeed in obtaining the best prize: an incorruptible crown. To learn more, read our informative Tomorrow’s World article, “Can You Do Hard Things?” or watch our telecast, “You Can Be a Success!”