Will you be one of the perhaps billions of spectators who will be glued to the TV during the Winter Olympics? For 17 days, the world will join in the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat as the fine-tuned athletes from around the globe compete for the chance to bring back gold for their respective nations.
I love the fact that many of the Olympians’ awesome names alone are difficult to get my provincial mind around, (Bjarkmar and Hjalprek, anyone?)—much less the mind-blowing feats of athleticism they perform!
These fearless human beings are ski jumping in the upper stratosphere, skating in perfect geometric circles, and struggling through the controlled combat sport known as ice hockey.
I don’t know about you, but I have always wanted to represent the red, white, and blue on the world’s stage. To compete and give my best for the nation that has been such a blessing to me and my family would be an unfathomable honor.
And I can’t even imagine how my heart would pound with American pride as I walked up the podium to receive the gold medal as The Star Spangled Banner blasted in the background and the crowd shouted, “USA! USA! USA!”
Ah, but I sometimes get out of breath just bounding up the steps of my home, and I don’t even know how the Luge even works, so unfortunately that will be a bucket list item that will remain for eternity…
Or will it?
While I won’t be donning any Team USA gear or catching flights to Sochi anytime soon, I am in a competition that actually dwarfs the world stage:
So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cloud of witnesses, let us drop every extra weight, every sin that clings to us and slackens our pace, and let us run with endurance the long race set before us.
Now stay focused on Jesus, who designed and perfected our faith. He endured the cross and ignored the shame of that death because He focused on the joy that was set before Him; and now He is seated beside God on the throne, a place of honor (Hebrews 12:1-2, The Voice).
It’s an exhilarating and alarming thought at the same time—right? This verse reveals that though we think we are alone, we are definitely not! Our day-to-day service to Jesus Christ is being witnessed by the Christian competitors who have gone before us, and like a massive crowd in a heavenly stadium, they are cheering us on to victory!
And I love how this passage encourages us to stay focused on Jesus, who competed against death itself and came out the champion!
So in a very real sense, I am an Olympian. I am not representing an earthly nation, but I do bear the standard for the Kingdom of Heaven. Each day I make the choice to train and run well, or I slack off and let worldly things weigh me down.
And one day—which will be here before I know it—I will have the opportunity to achieve much more than gold:
You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.
I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
I want to win—do you? I want to win souls for THE Cause. I want to win glory for Jesus Christ. I want to win the eternal gold so I can lay it at the feet of Jesus as the anthem of His praise is blasted throughout heaven.
And in the meantime, I want to hear the crowd roar as I stand up for Jesus and share the gospel with everyone around me.
My friends, let’s treat every day like the 17 days in Sochi. Stay alert and don’t get caught napping as you serve the Savior before the witnesses of old.
And hopefully, I’ll see you at the podium!
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
Whether you know it or not, or like it or not, you are an Olympian in an epic competition for souls. Let the excitement of the Olympics motivate you to get in the game and take your calling to serve Jesus seriously.
Accelerant: Fuel for THE Cause
Pray: Jesus, help us to keep our eyes on You as we run the race before the witnesses. Give us strength, power and endurance each day to achieve more than gold for Your glory and Kingdom.
Read: 2 Timothy 4:7-8. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.
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Discussion Guide for Leaders
Big Idea: The Bible writers used the ancient Olympic games as an illustration for how we should approach the Christian life. We are surrounded by witnessed, so we must strive for eternal gold.
Key Passages: Hebrews 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
- What is your favorite Winter Olympic sport?
- How do you feel knowing that you are surrounded by witnesses?
- What motivates you to achieve eternal gold?
- How can you apply this Soul Fuel to THE Cause of making disciples who make disciples?