Friday, August 3, 2012

You don't win a Silver... you lose the Gold: Why the gospel is better than the Olympic Dream

Aussie culture is known for its sporting pride and uncanny ability to punch above our weight in most sports that we participate in.  Nowhere else is this seen more vividly than every four years at the Olympic Games.  Time and time again we have come up trumps against the odds... rising victorious over the bigger and more powerful nations, filling the hearts of young children the nation over with a passion to live the Olympic Dream!

That is until this year!

This year so far we have seen our athletes fall agonisingly short of all that was expected of them.  This has brought cries of anger and frustration from the media and viewing public alike.  Only in Australia can 2nd in the world be a failure... If we could bottle the Australian attitude towards our athletes into a single phrase it would be: "You don't win a Silver... you lose the Gold!"

There is no margin for error when you follow the Olympic Dream... it is winners covered in glory and losers covered in shame.

I feel for our athletes when they are forced to break down in tears at post-race interviews.  It is like they bet all of their hopes, dreams and self-worth on victory only to see it ripped from their grasp by 0.01 of a second.  What a terrible system to live under... the Olympic Dream that promises so much fame, glory and significance, but can just as easily rob you of everything and leave you broken, shamed and defeated.

Jesus Christ was never one to beat around the bush when it came to speaking hard truths.  In Luke 17:33 He says, "Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it."   The Olympic Dream tells you to bust your guts hoping to promote your life and find everything you ever hoped and dreamed of... but time and time again it leaves you lost, broken and hurting; feeling like a failure.  Jesus was right here... if you seek to preserve your life you will lose it because just like the Olympic Dream you are trusting in something that is destined to fail you... no one is guaranteed of Gold at the Olympics... just ask the guys who fell over in front of Steve Bradbury... you can train the hardest, be the strongest, mentally prepare yourself and even earn the tag of favourite, but at the end of the day there are things outside of your control...

The sad thing is that so many people live their lives with their own dream of Olympic proportions... sure only a small percentage of people actually pursue high level sport, but pretty much everybody puts their hopes in "preserving our lives" one way or another.  Sport, education, career, relationships, attractiveness, sex, power, riches and fame... we are all chasing something that we think will "make us" something that we hope will fulfil our lives.  Jesus says that this is destined for failure because none of these things will last... all of them will disappoint us and leave us broken... if we seek our lives we will lose them.

But Jesus goes on to say that "whoever loses his life will keep it."  In other words if we lay down our quest for finding meaning, significance and joy in the things of this life that are destined to fail, we will actually find what we have been looking for!  If you lose your life you will keep  it!  Ultimately Jesus offers Himself as the perfect example of this:  He was the eternal Son of God and yet He relinquished His right to a heavenly dwelling and took on the very nature of a broken and weak human being... He suffered in every way that we suffer and endured mockery, torture and ultimately an agonising death on a cross all so that we might have life.  Jesus lost His life when He laid it down for us on that cross; dying the death we should have died... but God raised Him from the dead and gave Him the Name above all Names!

The Olympic Dream will crush you!  And so will the Career Dream, Relationship Dream, Riches Dream, Sex Dream and any other Dream.  They will promise you the world but leave no room for failure... they will nver give you a sense of surety about life... you will always be walking on unstable ground just one slip away from a complete meltdown.  Jesus is the only pursuit that will never let you down.  To abandon your pursuit of meaning and significance in the things of this life and to pursue life in Christ instead is to take your hopes and dreams off shaky ground that is crumbling around you and place them on a rock solid foundation that will never fall.  Unlike the Dreams of this life which offer you everything with no guarantee of success, Jesus has guaranteed His promise of life to the full by giving His own life as a down payment on your eternal joy!

The Olympic Dream offers you the slightest chance of momentary glory saturated with the fear of failure... The gospel guarantees you the fullest of joys and most glorious life forever...

1 comment:

  1. It's true and I think it's been especially realised in the media coverage of these games. It's always the notion of "settling" for silver. What an achievement to even get to the Olympics.

    Is it our modern day which is highlighting this more - I always remember, as a child, the Olympic games being about a celebration of sport and personal focus - the medals were a bonus. But these days everything is about that "moment" of achievement, only fulfilled by gold.

    I guess it highlights our common social outlook, which is becoming more and more 'me' focused. As a generation it's all about what we have, who we know, what we've done. Because of this it's especially important for us to be preaching and sharing a Gospel of Jesus, which keeps him as the only focus of glory. Even churches can be charged with taking the glory off God and highlighting their own achievements. Let's make sure we don't do this in our local congregations.