Summary: Spiritual Olympians with a "go for the goal" mindset keep their eyes on Jesus.
Title: Olympians Reach for the Goal
Text: Hebrews 12:2-4
The Big Idea: Spiritual Olympians, with a “go for the goal” mindset, keep their eyes on Christ.
Series: Spiritual Olympians: Going for the Goal, is based on Hebrews 12:1-13 and designed to coincide with the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, August 8 – 24 and beyond. It is a series developed from Go for the Goal: Become a Spiritual Champion, Mainstay Ministries.
Eric Liddell was a famous Olympian who ran in the VIII Olympiad in Paris, France in 1924. He was a devout Christian who went on to be a missionary to China. But back to the 1924 Olympics. He chose to drop out of the 100 meter race rather than run on Sunday. Despite not being favored to win the 400 meter he went on the win that race, earn the gold medal, and set a new Olympic Record of 47.6 seconds. His story is immortalized, so to speak, in the 1981 film Chariots of Fire.
Video Clip: Chariots of Fire Finale – Eric Liddell winning the gold in the 400 meter in the 1924 Olympics. (YouTube.com)
It is apparent that Eric Liddell ran his races and lived his life with his eyes fixed on the Christ whom he honored in all he did.
Eric Liddell is a model of the teaching of our text today.
1. Spiritual Olympians keep their eyes fixed on Jesus
“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus…” Hebrews 12:2a
Keeping our eyes on Jesus involves two actions:
• The first is looking away from other things. It means shifting our gaze, so to speak, from one thing or all other things to one thing.
• The second action is to concentrate one’s gaze on one thing.
When our children were little the professionals working in the field of child behavior used terms like “hyperactive” and “impulsivity” to describe a child who was highly energetic or off-the-wall or inattentive or easily distracted – well, hyperactive and impulsive.
Now they are diagnosing children (and adults) who have trouble focusing as suffering from “attention deficit” or “hyperactivity disorder” or sometimes both with the acronym “ADHD.”
Beginning in preschool, Olympian Michael Phelps couldn’t sit still, stay quiet, or pay attention. One teacher told his mother, “Your son will never be able to focus on anything.” (news.aol.com/health/article/an-olypians-gold-medal-focus)
Isn’t it amazing that ADHD diagnosed Michael Phelps developed the steely discipline and laser-like concentration necessary for him to become an 8 gold medal winner in Beijing?
When an Olympian participates in an event it is not as though the world stops and nothing else is happening or matters. Life always goes on. I like the little saying, “Life is what happens while you are making plans.” Even when we are laying out our plans for a day or a lifetime… times passes and stuff happens.
We cannot escape dealing with the our obligations and the things that happen. We do not ignore our families so we can focus on Jesus. We do not quit our jobs so we can look unto Jesus. We do not neglect the needy because we need to fix our eyes on Jesus. But what we do is this: We focus on Jesus when we ask for wisdom in handling our family matters. We focus on Jesus when we seek the sufficiency of his grace in every situation. We focus on Jesus when we see opportunities to care for others.
We see the child that challenges our self control and we shift our eyes from the child to Jesus in order to see what Jesus sees, and feel what Jesus feels, and to find the will and way to react as Jesus would react.
Spiritual Olympians keep their eyes on Christ because they must, if they hope to complete their races.
2. Spiritual Olympians depend on Jesus from the start to the finish of their lives of faith.
“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish…” Hebrews 12:2a
This passage is shrouded in a bit of controversy over the understanding of Jesus as the author / pioneer and finisher / perfecter of our faith.
• One understanding is that Jesus was the first to truly live out a life of faith from beginning to end. Jesus, whom we understand to be “fully human and fully God” ran his race and reached his goal, completing his mission. So we fix our eyes on Jesus who is our example to emulate in our own respective races. Philippians 2:5-11
• Another understanding is that Jesus is the agent who begins, continues, and completes his work in us. Among references to support this thought is Philippians 1:6, “He who has begun a good work in you will continue his work until it is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ comes back again. (Leon Morris, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Hebrews, P 134)