31.7 million people watched the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympic games. I was one of them. I love to watch the athletes from around the world follow their flag into the cheering arena. I am always proud when the athletes from the USA march in behind the stars and stripes. (Although, the jury is still out on those Ralph Lauren sweaters our athletes were wearing. One of the young women I work with commented that if it had been an ugly Christmas sweater party, USA might have taken the gold medal.) Fashion aside, the ceremonies are filled with pageantry and a sense of the diverse world we all claim as home.
The Olympic Charter states: “The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating young people through sport practiced in accordance with Olympism and its values.” There is something hopeful about watching young athletes, who have devoted their lives to their sport, compete on a world platform and cheer on their fellow athletes. Are the Olympic games a picture of our world coming to a place of unity and shared vision? What are the values of the Olympics?
A Christian Post article reported that as the Olympic games were getting underway, the International Committee had begun its usual practice of dispensing more than 100,000 condoms to the 2800 athletes. One athlete reported the games were a “love fest” with some players “getting down and dirty” right out in the open. Another athlete estimated that 70 to 75 percent of the athletes were involved sexually with one another during the games. He said there was an intense party atmosphere among the competitors.
It seems each news broadcast contains a report about the continued threat of terrorism at the Sochi games. “I’ve never seen a greater threat in my lifetime,” said Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Tex.) on Fox News Sunday of the Olympic games. In December, terrorists detonated two bombs a few hundred miles from Sochi in Volgograd, Russia, killing dozens. “We’ve already had two suicide bombers go off outside the Olympic Village,” McCaul said.
Are the Olympic values possible in our world today? The Olympics were established on June 24, 1894 by a Frenchman named Pierre de Coubertin. He stated that the games were to teach: “The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight; the essential thing is not to have won, but to have fought well.” The question is, what is worth fighting for? The Apostle Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Paul defined the “Olympic sport” for Christians as “keeping the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
The great news is that we have a perfect, unbiased judge for the Christian Olympics. “The Lord, the righteous Judge” will determine who the victors will be. Our goal is not an Olympic medal, it is a “crown of righteousness.” Who will win that crown? The winners are “all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8)
Pierre de Coubertin was right when he said, “the important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight.” Christians just need to be reminded of what we are to be fighting for.
We live in a changing world. I wonder how many condoms were distributed at the Olympic games 50 years ago? Were any distributed at all? I think it is safe to say that the values of our world have never been less godly. But the good news is this: light is always more noticeable when it is dark. Pray for our Christian athletes to stand out in the crowd. Pray for Christ to be glorified through Christians attending or coaching as well.
Kelly Clark, Lolo Jones, David Wise, Katie Uhlaender, Anne Schleper, Bobby Brown, Elana Meyers and Christopher Creveling are Olympic competitors who have professed Christ as their Lord. I’m praying they win medals to go with the crowns they have already been assured of! I’m praying that God will use them to spread his word to the rest of the athletes.
For all of my readers that have “made the Christian Olympic team” – let’s remember that we are running a race as well. Let’s fight the good fight, knowing we have a righteous judge. Hang on to the values that God’s word has provided and “carry the torch” into our culture. Imagine walking into a heavenly arena, wearing your crown…and thankfully a robe of righteousness. (Those sweaters were pretty awful!)
Go Team USA, but more importantly, Go Team Jesus!