Summary: The Olympics dated back to the days of the New Testament, the Apostle Paul spoke of running, wrestling and boxing. We can apply this to our contemporary lives as well.
The long journey of the Olympic Games began more than 2,700 years ago. Records of Olympic history show that the ancient Olympic Games were held in Greece as early as in 776 BC. It was then that the basis of the Olympic Movement began to evolve into a philosophy of life: exalting and combining the qualities of body, will, and mind in a balanced whole. Out of this philosophy the Olympic Ideals were born, placing noble competition, sport, peace, culture, and education at the very core of Greek civilization.
In 1896 the first modern Olympic games were held in Athens where about 300 athletes competed in 9 different sports. Since that time the Olympics have been held around the world. Now, at the dawn of the 3rd millennium, the Games are returning to the country of their birth and the city of their revival, Athens, Greece. August 13 will bring together thousands of athletes and coaches to participate in 28 Olympic events hosted at 35 different venues in the city. Times have changed but the quest for victory, the quest for gold, has not.
How many of you would like to go for the gold? Turn to someone by you and say, “I am going to go for the gold.”
While they arrive and prepare for competition in Athens this week, realize the Olympics were taking place during the time the Bible was being written. In fact, we can find the Olympics intertwined with Scripture. Paul said in Romans 8:35-37 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
In the Greek, Paul said is we more than a hypernikao, or we are more than Nikes. I have on my Nike clothes, how many of you wear Nikes? Do you remember what the word Nike means? It doesn’t mean stinky athletic shoes, the word Nike, used here in Romans, is a word that was used to only describe Olympic winners. Jeff Johnson, Nike’s first employee, created the name of the company using the name Nike which symbolized the Greek goddess of victory. Paul, using the language and examples of the day, said we as believers are more than just some made man Greek goddess, we are victorious in Christ Jesus, the only one who can provide victory. God chose to take the word Nike, overcomer, and make you more than Nike’s, more than Olympic winners, more than overcomers, more than conquerors.
As you know, I am a big sports fan and I enjoy the Olympic games, the dedication these athletes have to be the very best in their sport venues. How many of you have seen the movie Chariots of Fire? I find that to be an inspiring movie, based on the true story of Eric Liddel who acknowledged the talent he had to run was from God so he could become an Olympic champion, though he would not compromise his faith for an earth victory, refusing to run on Sunday so he was entered in another distance. He would not back down when even a member of the royal family of England tried to persuade him. We don’t see much of that dedication today.
As we observe the athletes, behind them is a lifetime of dedicated training, night and day, 8-12 hours a day for a few moments of glory, and not all who train ever get the opportunity to compete for the gold.
We watch on television the athletes who compete but we don’t know the days they wanted to quit, the days they were tired of the training, the days they were tired of not being able to go out with friends because of the lifestyle of discipline they developed. We don’t realize how tired they became of diets, of pain, of struggles been then there came the day when they were tapped to go for the gold, and the day when they stood atop the victory platform, the gold medal securely placed around their neck when all those days of difficulty are forgotten and the crowd cheers and anthem of their country plays and the flag waves in the breeze of victory.
Listen, there is a day coming if you and I go for the gold, that Jesus will announce over the loudspeakers of heaven, “This is my faithful servant, well done. You are more than a Nike. You are greater than an Olympic champion, come and enter your victory rest.”
You might ask, what am I talking about? I am speaking of what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3 when he said there was a day coming when many of you will receive a reward. I want to also say, Paul commented there would also be those who would go unrewarded, headed for total meltdown. You might be here saved, on your way to heaven, a Christian with a passport but there is more to heaven than just having your name written in the Lambs Book of Life. Look at verses 12-15 12Now anyone who builds on that foundation may use gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. 13But there is going to come a time of testing at the judgment day to see what kind of work each builder has done. Everyone’s work will be put through the fire to see whether or not it keeps its value. 14If the work survives the fire, that builder will receive a reward. 15But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builders themselves will be saved, but like someone escaping through a wall of flames.