I've been watching

Updated: Aug 7

I've been watching the Olympics morning, noon, and night. It helps that one channel is actually broadcasting the events 24/7.


I usually watch a little of the games in the morning before I go to work. I do the same over my lunch break. And, if I'm free in the evening, it's more of the same.


I like seeing the variety of sports that the Olympics has. I've seen handball, water polo, table tennis, weight lifting, badminton, along with basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, swimming, and track and field.


One of the things that I like about the Olympics is seeing the athletes from around the world in action. Did you know that tiny San Marino won the first medal in its history at the current Tokyo games? I also saw that a woman from Ecuador won a gold medal in weightlifting. Last night, I saw a runner from Botswana proudly represent his nation.


Minnesotans have had their share of success this time around. St. Paul native Suni Lee even took home the gold medal in the female gymnastics all-around competition.


The modern Olympic movement began in 1896 in its native Greece. The first Olympics was held in 776 B.C. The Panhellenic Games were still going strong during the New Testament era. We see evidence of this in several of Paul's epistles.


Here is what the apostle wrote to the Corinthians, many of whom probably had been in the crowd for the Panhellenic Games:


"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."


Paul uses the world of sports to describe the Christian life. Paul does so time and time again in his letters, right up to his final one. In his second epistle to Timothy, Paul writes: "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."


Paul uses athletic imagery in his letter to the Philippians as well: "I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."


Amen.

Photo by Braden Collum on Unsplash


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