It’s been an amazing year for us in the UK, what with the Queen’s Jubilee, the Olympics and then the Paralympics.
I’m not normally ‘into’ big public events. I’m not into royalty or sport. I get wound up with people in confined spaces and I don’t really like being caught up in whatever mood the crowd happens to be in.
But now I have sat through the Jubilee flotilla, and the Olympics/Paralympics from the opening to the closing ceremony. I’ve sat speechless in one moment and then stood up, jumped up and down and shouted at my TV with the best of them. And I have only one word to describe the experience:
If my son was writing this, he would say “Epic”.
Jump, Jump, Jump Around!
Standout moments include:
1. The sheer number of boats in the flotilla – and those poor singers soaked to the skin on top of that boat!
2. The Olympic Opening ceremony almost all of it
3. Going to the Olympic park to be part of the amazing atmosphere there
4. “Super Saturday” as the BBC put it, where ‘we’ (Team GB, that is) won 3 Gold medals in less than an hour.
5. The response of the crowd to Team GB but also to pretty much anyone representing any country whatsoever.
I haven’t spent so much time jumping out of my chair in years.
In fact, this year I have genuinely felt proud to be British.
Us at the Olympics 2012
So what has that got to do with my faith?
What does God think about all this and what does the bible have to say about it?
I have had some interesting conversations with folks about some of the negative aspects.
For example, it is easy to draw a parallel between the idolatry of the Old Testament and the ‘personality cults’ of some of our modern day Olympic athletes.
It is all too easy to go from sharing in the joy of an athlete who has just won a gold medal, or showing respect for their hard work and sacrifice, to unwittingly turning them into an object of adoration and worship.
I’ve also heard it said that top level athletes are not good role models because they sacrifice so much that they can be absent from their families for long periods of time: exactly what young people don’t need at a crucial time in their lives. I don’t know whether I agree fully with that, but it certainly gave me food for thought.
I’m not going to go into the biblical ins and outs of all this as I don’t have space here. However, I will share just one positive that has been impressed on me.
It is that of a huge crowd, united in their appreciation of someone other than themselves; together willing them to do their utmost, and to be all that they can be.
Now I can agree with that concept and every time I have found myself caught up in it with them, all I can think of is:
1. Wow, that was awesome!
2. How much more awesome will it be when we meet Jesus in Heaven?
Stop For A Moment
Something that big celebrations like the Olympics can do for us is to make us stop for a moment and realise that we are part of something bigger than ourselves.
I said earlier that I have felt proud to be British. But I also feel part of a much greater community, where everyone can stand tall together, where we can appreciate each other’s abilities, culture and beliefs.
Even then, as amazing as the most fantastic Olympic moments can be, they are only a shadow of what Heaven is like. The bible says that one day we will all stand before God and worship Him together in a time when “every tear will be wiped away”.
To quote Revelation (Chapter 4, verse 9):
“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
-New International Version
Can you imagine what it will be like when every nation, tribe and people and language stands before the Lord and that crowd roars and applauds the wonder and sacrifice of Jesus their saviour?
I have just one word because language, any language, doesn’t come close: