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.