It’s been 8 days since the opening ceremonies of the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (I have learned since my last post that this is, in fact, the proper way to write this), and what a fantastic week of competition… and, no, I’m not talking about that Phelps guy’s 1/100th of a second victory to tie Mark Spitz’s record for 7 gold medals in one Olympics, I’m not talking about Nastia Lukin and her gymnastic artistry or the fact that she had to compete against the pre-adolescent Chinese team, I’m not referring to the return to dominance of the US Men’s basketball team (dubbed the Redeem Team… appropriate since this is a Christian blog), and I’m not even talking about my favorite sport, track and field with Bernard Legat, Lopez Lomong, Deena Kastor, Ryan Hall, and the all the rest… no, for me the highlights of these Olympic games has come in the absolute ruling of the South Korean squad in archery and the rousing sets of women’s doubles table tennis between Japan and Hong Kong… I told you I’m an Olympics junkie…
Now, the question you are asking yourself right now: “Really? Is he serious?”
Well, maybe not entirely… but I have watched more archery than swimming so far in these games, and even as I type this I am watching a table tennis match (in Mandarin Chinese, no less)… The question that will get you is: why? Why do I care so much about these “lesser” events?
Well, that’s just it… they aren’t “lesser” events… at least not as far as the spirit of the Olympics is concerned.
To me the Olympics represents such a perfect metaphor for our equality in God’s economy, because while, Michael Phelps or Shawn Johnson might be more popular or famous to the viewing audience in terms of the Olympics they are the same as the archers from South Korea or the rowers from Great Britain… they are Olympians, plain and simple. And the cool thing is that a gold medal is a gold medal is a gold medal. I think that is so cool! I mean, all the gold medals look the same. They all have the same ribbon. And they are all awarded in the same way. Every gold medalist hears their country’s national anthem played in their honor. The only difference is the event that is inscribed on the medals.
26You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:26-29
In this passage, Paul is reassuring his readers that their standing before God is not based on their merit, or their social standing, or even their gender, it is based on the cross of Jesus. As a result, anyone who truly believes (and exactly what that means is a topic for another post) has the right to be called a child of God.
Far too often, we place pastors or worship leaders or those in public ministry on this pedestal as though that sort of service is the kind that everyone should attain to. We believe that those in public ministry will be sitting closer to the Lord when we get to heaven. But that is simply not the case. Just look at who Jesus honored. Fishermen, tax collectors, repentant prostitutes, poor widows, lepers, and the list goes on and on.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Pastors, and teachers, and worship leaders are doing what God has called them to do. But God doesn’t honor them because of the public aspect of that service. God honors anyone who puts their whole trust in Him and seeks to serve Him with the gifts, talents, and time they have.
Not every Olympian can be Michael Phelps. But every Olympian is an Olympian, and the gain that not because of the event in which they compete but by a heart and life that has been devoted to training and competition above others.
Those who put their trust in the Lord and devote their lives to Him are equal in His sight.
(The Japanese just staged a great comeback in women’s doubles table tennis against Hong Kong by the way…)