Summary: Deriving some spiritual lessons from the great athlete Jim Thorpe’s saga on public fickle-mindedness during this Olympics time...lessons to which audience/congregation can easily "connect" at a time "Olympics fever" is in the air...
AN OLYMPICS STORY AND BEYOND...
Hey, it’s Olympics time!!! From July 27th to August 12th, thousands are going to throng the Stadia in London and billions are going to be glued to their TV sets enjoying the rich fare being dished out by the World’s best athletes in the “Cauldron at London”. In the all the excitement leading up to the “Greatest games on Planet Earth” does the name of “Jim Thorpe” ring a bell?
Action: Display of picture of Jim Thorpe in action in 1912 Olympic Games
Well arguably he was the greatest athlete of 20th century. Blessed with abundant natural talent in the Early days of Olympic movement when “amateurism was the order of the day”, Thorpe virtually “torpedoed” the competition into submission by winning the gold medals in the Pentathlon and Decathlon events of 1912 Olympics. Encomiums were predictably showered upon him on his glorious Olympic victories by the Olympic authorities but heartbreak was only round the corner. Very soon his gold medals were cruelly withdrawn by that same Olympic officialdom which had sung his praises on the allegations that this versatile athlete had connections with professional baseball. Sadly, professionalism was a “Forbidden fruit” to myopic Olympic movement of those days. Should not best of athletes be allowed to participate in the greatest sporting event organized to showcase the best of athletic ability? Finally, sanity dawned upon Olympic movement and that is why we have modern-day NBA professionals “displaying their wares” in Olympics now. To complete the Thorpe saga, International Olympic Committee finally “realized their mistake” and his Olympic medals were restored posthumously, in 1982.
Times really have not changed. In the Biblical realm too we see people being consistent in their inconsistency while dealing with their heroes. Good many times, great motivators have been made heroes’ to be only reduced to zeroes the very next moment. Sad to say, people have been vacillating in their attitude towards the Almighty also (yes, He too has not been spared). In this Sermon covering 4 incidents in the Scriptures, I intend to focus on the extreme mood swings of the public (I am reminded about the pendulum) contrasted with eternal unchanging ways of the Creator (Heb 13:8), who consistently bears our inconsistencies!
FROM WATER TO VAPOR
Action: Display of Picture of Prophetess Miriam dancing after the miracle of Red-Sea parting followed by a picture of "Public protest"
In Chapter 15 of the Book of Exodus, we see Israelites at their eccentric best all over the subject of WATER! At the beginning of the Chapter, we see them going gaga over their Redeemer God drowning the wicked Pharaoh and his army/cavalry in the Red Sea waters however, even before some water had flown under the “Nile bridge” as it were, we see them turning bitter (towards the end of that very chapter) over the issue of…yes… some bitter water this time (Exodus 15:22-24). Only some time back their praises for their Savior was overflowing like River water during monsoon time only to evaporate very soon and worse…turn into a bitter complaint. Now what about the unchanging God, did He make a big fuss over the fussy ways of His people? NO! Rather He immediately provided sweet water to them (vs 25). Yes in this fallen world (Romans 8:22-23), no one is exempt from problems but that doesn’t grant us license to turn bitter and use the intemperate language (Exodus 14:11)…the kind the people of Israel used when confronted with difficulties. Viewed positively, problems are an opportunity for us to lean upon Him, who would either immediately get us out of our messy situations (Psalm 50:15) or would give us His grace to grin and bear them for His glory(2 Cor 12:8-12)!
FROM A SHEPHERD TO A SCAPEGOAT
Action: Display of a picture of Public protest followed by animation of a swinging pendulum
Now for the woes of a man of God’s own heart…
David was now in great danger because all his men were very bitter about losing their sons and daughters, and they began to talk of stoning him…(I Samuel 30:6).
David and his faithful (?) men after an incomplete military expedition had just arrived home (Ziklag, where David was in hiding, as King Saul was hunting for his life) only to find that their perpetual enemies-Amalekites- in their absence had raided their town, looted their property and carried off their wives and children. This experience was a shock for David with a capital S…now his problems were being compounded as his men, whom he had so faithfully led as a good shepherd for some years now were making him a scapegoat for all this mess. Talk of some people being predictably unpredictable…
I reiterate, times have not changed as fickle human mentality has not changed. “This daughter-in-law of ours has brought ill-fortune to our family”…so goes the refrain in some nominal Christian circles…if a tragedy were to befall a family, despite no fault of that innocent daughter-in-law. Talk of silly mood swings!