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Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Christian and the Olympics

Thinking about the Olympics, again...

So how about revisiting the Olympics?  Are you up to being a bit playful with me about it?  Let’s think about some of the events as pictures of other things in our lives.  Hokey, I know, but hey, sometimes hokey can teach us, too! 

First, how about foot races?  Like the sprint……sometimes in the life of faith, people run it like a sprint, they come to God and then have a quick dash of an experience, then it is all over.  Not the best way to live for God.  On the other hand, there are temptations that come into our lives, traps and sins that would drag us down, and in that case sprinting away         is exactly the right response!  However, I think we need to think of our life of faith more like a cross-country or marathon…..we have to be in it for the long haul.  Like a cross-country race, our life’s path may lead through all kinds of terrain, up and down, around unseen bends and dark valleys, but the winners runs faithfully through it all, never quitting until they cross the finish line.  But the image of the relays also applies, because we are to continually be making sure we pass the baton on to individuals prepared to carry it through the next leg of the race.  It is sad that sometimes we Christians neglect to do that, instead clutching the trappings of our faith too tightly, leaving no opportunity for those who will follow after us in life. 

Or maybe you like swimming.  In the swimming competitions, there are the variety of strokes found in some of the events, each stroke with it’s own difficulty and beauty.  Certainly our life contains that kind of variety, if we will observe the value of variety and appreciate the beauty that each stage of life, each relationship, each new day brings.  Sometimes, in swimming, speed is important, but very often, form is the critical factor.  Even when speed matters, the form determines the drag which then affects who wins and who loses.  Maybe in our lives, we need to pay more attention to the form, the way in which we do things, the character issues, and not get too caught up with the fast paced pressures all around us.  I also think about the divers…..again, form is such a big thing.  But I also think there are a lot of people who spend their lives like those divers……it sure is pretty, and makes a big splash, but it’s all over in a minute, nothing that lasts throughout their lives or into eternity.

The gymnasts always impress me.  What a lot of work.  What training and strength, all tempered by grace and beauty.  I was never able to do that kind of stuff.  One of the daughters is good at things like that……I am always amazed when I watch her doing flips or performing on a balance beam.  Anyway, the Olympian gymnasts have to bring everything together to win the medal.  If they do only a simple routine perfectly, they won’t get the points another might who takes on more difficult challenges.  If they focus on the flips and jumps but don’t pay attention to grace and flow, they may win lots of technical points, but lose the meet because of the unbalanced routine.  In your life, is there balance?  Don’t we need to take on challenges sometimes, even though there are easier things we know we can do perfectly?  Don’t we need to mix our lives with music, motion, strength and challenging activity? 

I think about the uneven bars, and the parallel bars.  I don’t know how it doesn’t hurt to slam your body and hands into those bars time and time again!  Maybe it does, but they do it anyway, because they have a goal in mind.  Maybe we need to take on things that hurt, if we are going to make the goal of Christlikeness a reality in our lives.  I have seen relationships that seem to live on the uneven bars…..marriages of spouses with different spiritual goals and priorities……and often, those relationships create problems.  But those folks whose relationships are in parallel, in tandem one with another, work side by side through the various drills that life brings. 

Okay, enough with the events themselves.  However, the overarching theme of Olympic athletes is discipline and the development of maturity in a skill. Christians should really connect with these concepts.  After all, we are expected to be “disciples,” the very root of which entails discipline.  Discipline of your mind, of what you allow in your body, of your handling of time and money.  And maturity in faith, like the development of any Olympic skill, requires time and practice to become all God would desire.  Nothing comes automatically for the growing Christian any more than it does for the Olympian.  We train, we practice, we make mistakes, we learn new ways, we have to break old habits and eliminate flaws.  So with that, let me simply close by saying, how about if both of us, take our role in this world as Christians as if we are Olympians for God, and see if we can win the crown he has waiting for us!  You might remind yourself of Paul’s end of life comment on the race he had run that is found in 2 Timothy 4:6-8.

TL:dr  The faith life has aspects that parallel many athletic events….but we must chose to mimic the right ones if we wish to win. 

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