Sacrifice and Glory

Hi everyone. Rob here. Yesterday I was finally able to get my TV reception sorted out so that I could watch the Olympics. I don’t know if it’s the sport that I love as much as the human drama behind an event of this magnitude and scale. After all, I don’t normally find myself avidly following the hockey or equestrian events, but every four years something changes!

The Olympics are a window into the human soul. We see heartache and despair; victory and glory; quiet contentment and obvious frustration; cheating and excuse-making played out on an epic scale. We see desire and sacrifice collide with the reality of tough competition, the fickleness of weather (especially in London!), injuries and unforeseen scenarios. Just look at what’s happened to the small New Zealand time in the first three days of competition: One rower saw their oar break and her team’s chance at getting into the finals lost: One equestrian rider had their dressage preparation scuppered by an official’s call for an unprecedented 10 minute delay because of heavy rain, leading to a poorer than usual display and a medal chance lost: One road rider, despite being very careful with his food, got diarrhea and had to pull out halfway through; and a single goalkeeping error saw our women’s football team lose to the best team in the world.

What’s my point? While there is a lot to admire in the skill, scarifice and courage of the athletes in London, they are also proof that we need a much bigger story to live in. The Olympics try to present themselves as the ultimate story; and so you get an epic opening ceremony full of mythic grandeur trying to draw you into feelings of awe and reverence. You get countries hinging their reputation and status on the number of medals they win compared to their rivals. You get slow-motion replays and tear-filled medal ceremonies. We also get people’s sense of self tied to how their favourite athletes are performing. Britain’s team is struggling as of this moment and the mood in Britain is a little downcast for example. But while it’s great theatre, the Olympics pale in comparison to the ultimate story. That belongs to God.

The story of the Creator of the universe taking on human form and dying for the sin of the world is far more interesting than any athletic event. The story of Jesus’ sacrifice, that he made because of his great desire to see us made whole and holy, is a bigger story than anything the Olympics can give us. The story of his glory, that he invites us to share in, is far more glorious than any world record that may get shattered in the next fortnight.

We will get swept up into some great stories during the Olympics. We should enjoy them, celebrate them and reflect on them. They will point us towards the best story of all; the story of Jesus’ desire for humanity – to know him, love him and share in his life; his sacrifice – made so that the obstacles to his desire, our sin and brokenness, may die; his glory – displayed in his resurrection that we will participate in when he returns. In the light of this I leave you with Paul’s words that I hope we will echo when we look back at our lives and our place in the ultimate story.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing (2 Timothy 4:7-8).”

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