Like hundreds of millions of other Americans, I have been following the Summer Olympics, chanting “USA! USA! USA!” What makes the Olympics so compelling is that droves of people who never watch sports are tuning in to watch athletes they never heard of compete in events they barely understand. Olympians do more than entertain – they inspire. As each competition and human interest story unfolds, we can learn some valuable lessons that tell us how to live a victorious Christian life.
1. We are called to persevere.
Have you ever signed up to do something fun, only to throw in the towel the moment things got tough? Olympian athletes remind us that in order to accomplish anything of worth in life, we must set a goal, keep our eye on the prize, and persevere. Paul said it like this: “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” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25). Athletes focus on their diets and training. They work with their coaches and teammates. Success requires perseverance. The Bible says, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out before us” (Hebrews 12:2).
2. We are ambassadors from a foreign land.
Olympian athletes serve as ambassadors for their home country. The eyes of the world are upon them at all times. What they do says something about where they are from. Scripture says, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Ambassadors represent the king of their homeland. As Christ’s ambassadors, we are to let our lives shine so that others will glorify our Father in heaven.
3. We are called to glorify God.
Everything we do, each day of our lives, should be done to the glory of our God. This is especially true when we are in the spotlight. When the cameras are on, Olympians have a rare opportunity to bring glory to their homeland. There have been many such athletes who have used their times on the medal stand to wave the flag. Other, such as gymnast Gabby Douglass, sprinter Allyson Felix, and swimmer Missy Franklin, have used their moments of fame to point others to Jesus. We are told, “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).
4. We are called to impact our world.
One of the most moving moments at any sporting event – especially the Olympics – is when a Christian athlete uses his or her fame to point others to Christ. Missy Franklin said, “God is always with me. I talk with Him before, during, and after practice. I pray to Him for guidance. I thank Him for this talent He has given me, and promise to be a positive role model for young athletes in all sports.” Gabby Douglass says, “I love sharing my faith.” Their calling is our calling. Paul told young Timothy, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).
5. It’s your turn.
What are the lessons you have learned in your Christian walk? The fact is, someone is always watching you. Don’t wait for your “15 minutes of fame.” Point others to Jesus today, right where you are. Go for the gold. The world is watching.