Olympic Glory and Eternal Glory

The pomp of the ceremonies and the thrill of the world-class competition make the Olympics exciting. If athletes devote themselves so completely for the hope of a medal, what should we do for the eternal prize?

The Olympics are back. It’s been four years since the summer games were held in Beijing. Weren’t they exciting? Do you remember how LaShawn Merritt won the gold medal in the 400 meters or how Christian Cantwell won the silver in the shot put?

No? Well, I don’t either. These two individuals and dozens more like them put their whole life into training for their particular sporting event with the hope of someday competing in the Olympics. LaShawn and Christian not only competed in the Olympics, they actually won medals! Yet most of us don’t even know their names.

The greatest thing in the world?

So here we are again, four years later, at the beginning of the London Olympics. All these athletes are gathering to compete and hoping to actually win a medal. Wouldn’t that just be the greatest thing in the world?

Well, it would be a wonderful achievement; but, no, it wouldn’t be the greatest thing in the world. Just like competitors in previous years, gifted athletes who win medals during the Olympic Games over the next couple of weeks will once again be forgotten by folks like us. We won’t even recognize their names.

As great as the Olympics are, they still are fleeting and temporary. The Bible shows that there is more to life than fleeting, temporary things.

Perishable and imperishable crowns

The apostle Paul wrote about these things, and his words are recorded in the Bible for us to see today.

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

So do these verses really relate to us? Are we really working on disciplining our body and bringing it into subjection? To what level does God really expect us to work at this? I think we find our answer in Hebrews 12:4: “You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.”

That’s pretty intense. That’s talking about Olympic-level striving. Are we there yet?

Olympic-level striving

The Olympians think it’s worth it to expend any and all efforts to win that gold medal. Their lives are devoted to it. Yet soon their accomplishments will fade into distant memories.

What we are striving for is something that is beyond our imagination—and it will not be temporary. Notice how Peter calls our attention to this twice:

  • “To an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4).
  • “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away” (1 Peter 5:4).

That crown is worth striving for! It’s worth devoting our lives to it above anything else. It’s worth any sacrifice. Remember Romans 8? Read it again—and again! “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

Jesus Christ is coming back to set up the Kingdom of God on this earth, and we can prepare now to assist Him. “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Revelation 22:12).

Read more about the wonderful future God has in store for us in the section about the “Kingdom of God.”

About the Author

Ron Kelley

Ron Kelley

Ron Kelley was born and raised in West Virginia. He spent 31 years working in hospital finance in Ohio before entering the full-time ministry in 2006.

Read More