A few weeks ago nearly 3,000 of the world’s greatest athletes descended on Beijing for two weeks to do what they do best. Their goal wasn’t to just qualify for the Olympics. They came to win. And let’s be honest, anything less than a medal is a disappointment. No one remembers the person that came in fourth. In fact, it hardly seems fair that just a couple inches or a tenth of a point can separate the best in the world from, “Who?”
As we watched to see who could do the most flips in a winter jacket, I wondered what God thinks about the Olympics. We probably get a good idea from the apostle Paul. I mean, if Paul were around today, I think his DVR would be set to the CBC every night. Paul liked athletics… and races… He promoted a “go for the gold” attitude, and repeatedly used these things as analogies for Christian living.
In 1 Corinthians 9:25 he wrote: “All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.”
At first glance it may seem like Paul was denouncing athletes for pursuing worldly accolades. But it’s actually more of a challenge to Christians based on his appreciation for elite athletes. He understood their intense dedication. He respected their drive to be the best. He saw them devote their lives to the sport, even if the rewards were fleeting. With that in mind, how much more motivated should we be, as Christians, to give our best for God?
During the Olympics, skier Mikaela Shiffrin fell and lost her chance for a medal, she tearfully said, “I will never get over this.” We don’t ever have to feel that same regret. Giving our best to God will always result in great reward in Heaven. Our efforts will never be lost in the pursuit of a worldly trophy or a brief moment of fame. To paraphrase 1 Corinthians 9:24, let’s go for the gold!