Summary: The story of Eric Liddle who won the gold medal for the 400 metres in the Paris olympics of 1924 and remained true to his Christian faith, featured in the film "Chariots of Fire".
A CHRISTIAN OLYMPIC CHAMPION
Here’s a symbol I’m sure you’ll recognise: it’s the Olympic Rings
( http://farrer.riv.csu.edu.au/ASGAP/APOL9/olympic.gif )
I wonder if you know what they represent? It’s the five continents – Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia, and Europe. You see how they’re all linked together, as one world, because the youth of the world are summoned every 4 years to give of their best in friendly competition in the great athletic event – the Olympic Games.
One man who was true to the spirit of the Games, and even more important to his God was a young man from Scotland. His name was Eric Liddle. It was at the Paris Games in 1924, 80 years ago, but he’s still well known through the film, “Chariots of Fire”, which was inspired by what he did.
Eric was a fine sprint athlete. His best chance of winning a gold medal for Britain was in the 100 metres and he was entered for that race. Eric was a devout Christian, in fact he was training to be a missionary and he wondered if his love of running was a distraction from his Christian service. After thinking and praying about it he came to the conclusion that, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” He wanted to do his best for God and Country, but when he heard that the trials for the 100 metres were to be held on Sunday, he refuses to run, saying that Sunday is for the Lord as the 4th Commandment told him to “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20:8). That’s what his conscience told him and he stuck to what he felt was right for him, although he was under a lot of pressure to give in. So instead of running in the Olympic 100 metres on Sunday, he goes to church and preaches a sermon.
Eric was given a very special verse from the Bible, “Those that honour me I will honour” (1 Samuel 2:30). He found this to be true. He was given the opportunity to run in the 400 metres which he won. God did honour him. For the rest of his life he continued to serve God as a missionary in China and was imprisoned by the Japanese. The Christian life isn’t an easy option but you can be sure that God does honour those who honour him. Eric Liddle died as a result of his imprisonment and is now in heaven with the Lord he loved and served with a reward far greater than the Olympic gold medal he won in 1924. Winners of an Olympic receive a wreath of leaves as a crown which soon withers away, but God gives more than that. Eric could say with St Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day” (2 Tim 4:8).
Remember Eric’s verse: “Those that honour me I will honour.” Enjoy the Games, remember Eric Liddle and follow his example of honouring God. You will never regret it.