Did you see the U. S. men’s swim team win gold? There are things I am positive you did not see. Those things are worth much more than the fleeting fame of Olympic gold medals. What were those unseen things and what should we learn from them?
Gold: No Griping Or Complaining
The absence of these two things would make just about anyone’s day. Has it escaped your notice that griping and complaining aren’t part of the athlete’s activities in Rio? Did any reporter from any network interview any athlete from any team and hear a line like this:
I just hate the fact that I had to come to the Olympic games in Rio!
We didn’t hear that because it didn’t happen. Every contestant not only wanted to there, they were glad to be there. It is an honor to represent one’s country in the Olympic games. What we have seen is a great deal of eager anticipation for the opportunity to compete. Hang on to that thought.
Gold: No Rejection
What kind of rejection, you ask? The 200 meter medley relay is a team event. It takes 5 people. And, I know only four were in the water. The fifth is the coach. Someone had to decide which swimmer was going to swim each leg of the relay. What we didn’t hear was a line like this:
The coach didn’t let me swim the third leg of this relay. That means I don’t like the coach and I’m not going to swim this race. The team can just lose without me!
Every athlete accepted his assignment and embraced it with all his might. And there is more. No athlete rejected his team. Each took his place on the assigned team and each took responsibility for the team. Hang on to these thoughts, too!
Gold: No Doubting
Was the American team favored to win? Yes. Did that stop everyone else from competing? No! Every athlete entered the pool with the belief they could win. The only thing necessary was to engage in the race. Everyone knew one team would come out on top. But I didn’t see, hear, or read about any team conceding before the race began because they doubted their own ability to win.
Gold: Our Faith
I have no doubt some of you have beat me to the conclusions and applications of this post. We know from I Peter that our faith is precious and it must be tried (proved; tested):
…so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ…
How is your/our faith tested? Let me use the swim team to show some ‘tests’ you probably haven’t considered. Scripture says believers are Heaven’s Ambassadors. Like those honored athletes who get to represent their nations, we get to represent Heaven here on Earth. So why all the griping and complaining among the Ambassadors? Around the Church we do hear things like:
- I have to do _________________
- Why do we have to go to ________________
- I don’t like __________________
The truth is, every opportunity in His Kingdom is a get to for every one of us. We need to learn a lesson from the Olympians and lose the have to words!
Rejection is also common among the Ambassadors. We think the coach is the pastor we can see. Truth is, that’s the assistant coach. Jesus is the Coach and our assistant coach should be in his place of service because the Head Coach put him there. That has implications.
Those swimmers accepted their assigned opportunities with joy. So should we. They accepted their team mates gladly. So should we. Like the Olympians, the Church needs to lose a lot of rejection. If you think I’m out-to-lunch, let’s look at our Coach’s work and assignments.
First, the place you occupy on His team is by His design and purpose. The people around you are where they are for the same reasons. I Peter 2 makes that very plain:
…you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
In Peter’s analogy, we are the stones in the King’s wall. We are each placed by His design. Furthermore, Paul tells is in I Corinthians 12 that each of us has at least one spiritual gift to use for His purpose and glory. Now, what does that say about you and the Amabassador serving next to you? How should you treat them? How do you treat them? Is there any place for rejection?
And then there is the matter of doubt. There was a question about who would win the men’s medley relay. However, there is no doubt about the team we call the Church. I’ve read the end of the Book and Jesus wins. The Olympians compete with joy. Our joy should make theirs seem like sadness! After all, if God is for us, who can possibly stand against us?
The condition of the world around us tells me we need these reminders. Please use these thoughts to encourage an Ambassador close to you. We need to pick up our pace. It’s not for us, but for His glory that we run the race that is set before us!