You might not know this, but the words "U.S.A.," "Winter Olympics," and "domination" have never quite worked out to be in the same sentence. For the last 50 years, we've picked up a few medals here and there, but generally speaking, the competition has buried us in a blizzard of skill and athleticism.
That was then… This is now. World, meet Lindsey Vonn, Shani Davis, and, most impressively of all, Shaun White, also called The Flying Tomato because of his red hair.
In case you missed it, The Chairman of the Snowboard flipped out the "also rode"
competitors with a double McTwist 1260 (invented by him, not McDonalds) and a near perfect score of 48.4. I guess the only way to score a 50 with those judges is to leave orbit, circle the moon, and land a triple cork, all while singing "Oh Canada."
It's obvious to me that Shaun White goes way beyond wanting to win, because he has made his biggest competitor himself. No one wants to defeat Shaun White's old scores more than Shaun White, and I can totally see him getting a 50 in the 2014 Olympics… can't you?
Watching these events and awards ceremonies makes me think of the day that I hope to receive my own gold medal. It's the day I will stand before the Judge, who will show me my own scores and, I hope, say, "Well done!"
I'm not talking about summer or winter games. I'm referring to the most important day of my life – Judgment Day:
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10).
The Apostle Paul wrote this verse with the ancient Olympics in Greece in mind, and the "judgment seat" he refers to was actually the podium where the judges sat to determine contest winners and give them rewards according to how well they performed.
So Paul is saying that the Christian life is an Olympic event and, just like Shaun White, your greatest competition is with yourself - your sinful nature against your spiritual nature. Even though your spirit desires to follow God's will and reflect Christ, your flesh wants to you to crash and fall down the hill. It takes intense discipline and focus to beat that kind of competition – so intense, in fact, that only Christ the God-man could beat it.
Your performance here on earth is not a determination of whether or not you get into heaven… that deal was sealed when you trusted Christ for salvation. There is nothing that you can do to make your heavenly Father love you less or more than He does right now.
Instead, this Olympic event is an evaluation of your commitment and follow-through to love and serve Jesus with every fiber of your being.
Here are some of the winning categories:
Are you studying the Bible and praying? Are you sharing the gospel relationally and relentlessly with your unsaved friends? Are you able to overcome sinful actions and attitudes through the power of the Holy Spirit? Are you plugged into a church and using your spiritual gifts?
These are the things the Judge wants to see in your life.
On that day, there will be Christians who will come to the podium, and after Christ reviews their life, they will have the look of sorrow and regret that you've seen on the athletes who have crashed. They will deeply wish they had done more for their Savior, but even in the midst of the disappointment, Jesus will "wipe every tear from their eyes" (Revelation 21:4) and lead them into eternal joy. And then there will be others who receive an evaluation of a life focused on serving Jesus Christ, and their faces will shine out joy and jubilation that could light up heaven itself.
So…how is your Olympic run going? Are you distracted and doubtful about God's ability to use you in incredible ways? Have you forgotten to "run in such a way as to get the prize" (1 Corinthians 9:24)? Or are you soaring to new heights in your relationship with Christ?
The good news is that if you're reading this, you still have a chance for victory! Take a lesson from Shaun White and the other Americans who went to the games, not just to compete, but to do their personal best. "They do it to get a crown [or medal] that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever" (1 Corinthians 9:25).
Remember, your biggest competitor in these eternal Olympics is you. Like every athlete, there is a side to you that wants to coast and just do the easy thing. Don't listen to that voice. Rather, take this advice and dominate your sinful nature in massive fashion:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won't become weary and give up (Hebrews 12:1-2, NLT).
Because you already have God's favor, go for the gold!
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
Ask your friends what they think motivates Shaun White to be the best and if they want to receive that kind of recognition. Share with them the good news Christ will proclaim to His followers on Judgment Day. Remember, it pleases your Father in heaven when you are faithful witness for the gospel and do your part in obedience to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).
Accelerant: Feed the Fire
"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done" (Revelation 22:12).
You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat (Romans 14:10).
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, 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 (Philippians 3:12-14).