In the 1998 Olympic games a number of inspiring stories of overcoming obstacles emerged. A young American curler had been on dialysis and was told to have an immediate kidney transplant. He opted to wait until after he had competed. He had dreamed of going to the Olympics in curling since before he was a teen. His mother had said, “But they don’t have curling in the Olympics.” The youngster had replied, “But they will.” This year was the first year for curling. He competed.
A woman ski jumper had inoperable back injuries. She underwent incredibly disciplined rehabilitation and won a gold in the jump where they do the twisting multiple flips! A Russian pairs skater had been bladed by her partner. The sharp runner had split not her hair and skin but her skull. She had recovered but was understandably tentative. Her coach said, “She’s determined and we’ve been working with her mind. She will compete.” And compete she did.
The birthplace of the Olympic Games is Greece. Alexander of Macedon – Alexander the Great- had spread the Greek culture and language throughout his conquered territories. And God chose such a time and such a circumstance to be the “fullness of time” when he would send forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law to redeem them that were under the law. Galatians 4:4,5. Thus, many of the Biblical admonitions concerning Christian living use figures taken from the athletic games.
In I Timothy 2:5 Paul said, “If a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned except he strive lawfully.” And in I Corinthians 9:24 he again said, “Know ye not that they that run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.” You remember the admonition in Hebrews 12:1 to “run with patience the race that is set before us.” And Paul’s farewell statement that he had “finished the course.”
The Christian life is like the Olympics, but vastly more important. A corruptible crown is one that we can’t take with us. The Christian’s crown of life is one that awaits those that have been faithful until death. Once obtained, it can never be taken away.
It is admirable when one disciplines himself to win a gold medal. It is more admirable when one becomes a Christian and exercises the discipline to live a godly life. The Christian competition is not with other people but with evil. When one wins, it does not lessen the number of others who may win. It takes a lot of doing to win an Olympic Gold medallion. It takes a lifetime of doing to win the crown of eternal life. Surely it is not unreasonable to expect the incorruptible crown to take as much commitment as one that ultimately will perish with the earth and all that is in it.