I love watching the Olympics. I could sit on the couch with my potato chips and do it for hours!
Normally, sports is not my thing, but there is something about the Olympic Games that captures my interest. Whether it’s the thrill of international competition, the camaraderie between competitors or the patriotism of hearing your anthem sung on a world stage, I will be glued to my television for two weeks. Might even shed a few tears!
I think the thing I like best is that everyone who makes it to the platform in South Korea will have something in common. Each will know what it was like to lose. Each will have lost dozens of times in the past. They will know what it was like to have suffered humiliating defeats. They will know what it was like to make crucial mistakes and they will have almost given up their Olympic dreams countless times. They will have all learned how to deal with past defeats and use them to make them stronger. Faster. Higher. Better. The ability to overcoming failure is what makes champions.
As Christians we can often let our failings be our downfall. We can let the many defeats along the way prevent us from continuing our race. Our imperfections and humiliating defeats can stop us in our tracks. It was the Apostle Paul who first made the analogy between sport and the Christian life. Despite all his bravado, Paul knew what it was like to feel defeated. He was imprisoned, exiled, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, starved, nearly drowned, robbed, slandered, and stripped. He also had a bad reputation that made others distrust him. There must have been times when he felt done in. But rather than let those defeats defeat him, Paul found his strength in his ever present God. He was able to learn from each bump along the way. He was able to give every defeat to God to be used to God's glory.
Paul encourages us to continue to press forward toward our goal to perfect Christ's love in our lives. To move on from the past, to not be weighed down by our failings, and to never tire doing good.
Both as individuals and as a church we have had some colossal failures. We have made both innocent and deliberate mistakes. At times we have failed to speak-up. At times we needed to shut-up. We have allowed some to fall through the cracks. We have neglected the study of the scriptures, and our own quiet times of devotion. We have failed to love our neighbours and share the good news of Christ with our friends and family. We have acted ashamed of the gospel and watered down it's life changing message. We have lived in the past and have hesitated to allow God to change us and our ways.
These are our defeats, but they will not defeat us. Instead, we will use them to make us stronger. Faster. Higher. Better.
Now we need to take all these failings and turn them into victories. To press on toward our goal to be a positive force of love in our homes, our church, our community and our world. To win the race for Christ.
Enjoy the Olympics. May the athletes inspire us to never give up on our own dreams.