By now, most reading this have surely paid some attention to the 29th Modern Summer Olympic Games that will be concluding this coming Sunday. There are many incredible stories, including the most publicized story of the amazing US swimmer, Michael Phelps, who won a record 8 gold medals in this 2008 Olympic Games. The best athletes in the world are competing in their various sports, trying to achieve the status of the best in the world in their sport. Now, what might this have to do with the theme of this website? There are many lessons to be learned from what it takes to be an Olympian and lessons we each can apply when facing the tragedies of life.
Sports are an important aspect of our lives (sometimes even more important than they should be). It is true that sports can rally and unify people over a common event. If too competitive or undisciplined, it can also bring disunity and even fighting. After the 04-16-07 VT Tragedy, many were inspired and unified through the avenue of sporting events (just as was true after 09-11-01). The VT Football Team (the most widely known VT Sport) was able to bring encouragement, unity and even healing to many. The NY Yankees even gave $1 million to the VT Memorial Fund and later came and played an exhibition game with the VT Baseball Team. Even on the 04-16-08 anniversary, there was a memorial baseball game that people could watch. Sports are only helpful when the athletes and observers maintain being a good sport, regardless of the outcome of the event.
Sports can be helpful to at least gain broader perspective when facing life’s tragedies. It is an encouragement to see a team (especially if considered the underdog) work together to overcome odds and win an event. Normally, this is only possible when the inferior team plans and works especially hard to win the competition, or when the superior team fails to plan and work as they are capable of doing. Whether it be a team sport or an individual sport, as in many of the Olympic Games, disciplined training and whole-hearted effort are essential for victory. The same is true in other areas of life.
Many Scriptures could be cited to illustrate these things (even using Athletic and Olympic analogies), including 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; Philippians 2:16, 3:11-14; 1 Timothy 4:7-8; 2 Timothy 2:5, 4:7-8; and Hebrews 12:1ff. The main point in these passages is that it is through disciplining our minds and bodies to yield to the Truth of Scripture, we can prevail through the tragedies of life, be successful in the eyes of the ultimate Judge and win rewards that we can offer back to him for what HE has done for us. Consider that it is only through exercise in the Word of God (Scripture) that this “disciplined training in righteousness” is possible, allowing the one following God to be mature and equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
So, remember, ‘Be A Sport” regardless of how things turn out in any competition, and more importantly, “Be a Spiritual Sport” and be diligent in this most important “sport.” Oh, and make sure you are qualified to even be in this most important sport–if you have questions there, you should check out “The Gospel” tab above.