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Summary: Spiritual Olympians, with a "go for the goal" mindset, remember the witnesses.

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Title: Olympians Remember the Witnesses

Text: Hebrews 12:1

The Big Idea: Spiritual Olympians, with a “go for the goal” mindset, remember the witnesses.

Series: Spiritual Olympians: Going for the Goal is based on Hebrews 12:1-13. The series is designed to coincide with the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, August 8 – 24 and beyond and is an adaptation of Go for the Goal: Become a Spiritual Champion produced by Mainstay Ministries.

Introduction

The world is watching China and China knows it. An essay I read in a national news magazine this week titled: A Viewer’s Guide to Beijing states, “From its inception, Beijing 2008 was ballyhooed as a nation’s coming-out party, one that would presage the Chinese Century. But you don’t get your very own century without first establishing supremacy in international sports…” (Mark Starr, A Viewer’s Guide to Beijing, Newsweek, August 4, 2008, P. 42)

Four years ago China finished second in gold medals… ahead of Russia and just four behind the USA. China has set the stage to surge past the United States this year.

Interestingly, China is largely motivated by what the Chinese refer to as their “National Humiliation.” “In 2001 the People’s Congress proclaimed a ‘National Humiliation Day.’” Its origin reaches back to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles following WWI in which Japan was awarded Germany’s concessions in China. After that, “Never forget our national humiliation,” became a common slogan. They have viewed their legacy as that of a country that has been humiliated repeatedly at the hands of foreigners and of failed attempts to redefine themselves. Subsequently, China has “allowed itself to imagine that its national identity might metamorphose from victim to victor, thanks to the Olympic Games. In one grand symbolic stroke, a successful Games was meant to cleanse China’s messy historical slate, overthrow it legacy of victimization and allow the country to spring forth on the world stage reborn.” (Orville Schell, China’s Agony of Defeat, Newsweek, August 4, 2008, PP. 39-41)

The Chinese are working feverishly to suppress charges of human rights violations, censorship, corruption, pollution, and labor abuses… as if Tibet, Taiwan and Hong Kong were not enough. The Chinese know the humiliation of loosing status on the international scene. We can relate to the desire for national pride and honor and the embarrassment of dishonor.

The Olympics are a stage for national honor… and the Olympics are a stage for individual honor. The world watches, sponsoring nations watch, fellow athletes watch… all eyes are on the competitors. The Olympic Games are a matter of International honor, national honor, team honor, and individual for each athlete.

In the next six weeks, I would like for us to think of ourselves as spiritual athletes… spiritual Olympians if you will. We will be neither, in Beijing nor vying for medals in competitive sports. However, we will all be vying for the prize that will come at the end of our race.

The Apostle Paul put it like this: I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now, the prize awaits me – the crown of righteousness that the Lord will give to me when he returns. And the prize is not just for me, but for all who eagerly look forward to his return. II Timothy 4:6-8

The Christian life is likened to an athletic event in the sense that we are:

• Aiming at the ultimate goal of being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, receiving commendation from God, and the hope of heaven.

And in the meantime, we are:

• Anticipating that getting there will be something akin to a marathon.

We understand that athletics events, when taken seriously, are not a stroll in the park on a sunny spring afternoon. The writer of Hebrews 12 compares becoming a spiritual Olympian to being an Olympian athlete. In fact, one commentator describes Hebrews 12 as “the perfect summary of the Christian life.” (Wm. Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series, The Letter to the Hebrews, P. 171)

So we begin the series by examining the mindset of the athletic Olympian as a transferable concept that may be applied as the mindset of a spiritual Olympian.

The first thing an Olympians needs to keep in mind is this:

I. Spiritual Olympians are being watched by a huge number of people.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith… Hebrews 12:1a NLT

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses… Hebrews 12:1a KJV

A. The first implication is that we are being watched.

Witnesses see. Witnesses watch. The Wiki Answer people estimate that over 3 billion people will watch the 2008 Summer Olympics on their televisions this year. 3 billion viewers is a lot of watchers.

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