Empowering young Australians to be a clear Christian voice
Olympic opening ceremonies normally celebrate sporting and cultural excellence without glorifying Almighty God – unlike London in 2012.
Proceedings commenced with a choirboy singing the great hymn Jerusalem, followed by choristers singing Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer. Then came the song in prayer that God would save the Queen, and Abide With Me.
The Rowan Atkinson spoof on Chariots of Fire could not detract from the witness of sprinter Eric Liddell, whose faith shaped his integrity and athletic prowess.
He was unwilling to run in his preferred event (the 100 metre race) at the 1924 Paris Olympics as the heats were held on a Sunday. Great pressure came upon Liddell to set aside his objection, and he was vilified as a traitor. On the day of the heats, he spent the time preaching in a Paris church. Unable to compete in his best event, Eric Liddell opted for the 400 metre race.
Though not expected to run well in that event, he broke the Olympic record, won the race by five metres, and earned a gold medal for Britain. He then dedicated his life as a missionary in China, eventually dying there as a prisoner of war – having finished the race, and kept the faith (II Timothy 4:7).
So it may be helpful to look afresh at the biblical texts on sporting excellence, which may prompt us to consider our own faith journey, along with the importance of personal fitness and self-discipline:
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. … I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize (I Corinthians 9:24-27).
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 (Philippians 3:13-14).
… let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1).