Millions of people around the world will soon be watching televisions and checking the Internet to find out the latest results from the Summer Olympics in London, scheduled to run from July 27 through Aug. 12. For 17 days, over 14,000 of the world’s finest athletes will compete for Olympic glory in 26 different sports.
Even for those who are not rabid sports fans, the Olympics offer something special. While it’s normal to cheer for one’s national team and to celebrate their victories, it is often the behind-the-scenes stories that make the Olympics so special. Most participants are able to train in state-of-the-art facilities under the finest coaches in the world, but there are always the stories of those who must overcome amazing odds to even participate. The stories of those who must work so hard at overcoming seemingly impossible obstacles can often be the most moving and rewarding, even if they never win a single medal.
While many of the Olympic stories are moving and powerful testimonies to the character of those who have worked so diligently to achieve their dreams, the Olympic story added an ugly chapter 40 years ago, when the Black September organization murdered 11 Israeli athletes in Munich, Germany.
Since then, security issues have become a major aspect of what was once an innocent and joyous celebration of human endeavor. An article in the March 8, 2012, issue of The Guardian stated that security for the London Olympics would cost over 1 billion pounds—that’s $1.6 billion—and involve over 40,000 security personnel. Organizers are preparing to employ over 20,000 private security personnel, in addition to over 15,000 from the military, as well as unpublicized numbers from the police and Britain’s MI5 and MI6 security agencies. A recent article also revealed that six batteries of surface-to-air missiles have been placed all around the Olympic venues. The head of London’s Olympic security said we have reached a sad stalemate—the terrorists keep trying to find a way to create havoc, and we continue to find ways to hold them at bay.
We all hope the security measures will be enough to prevent another senseless tragedy; but we also know that security measures, no matter how effective, are not a solution to a problem that springs from the human heart. The good news is, there is a solution, and you can be a part of it. The gospel message, revealed in the pages of the Bible, promises a way in which every human heart—including yours and mine—can be changed. And it also points to a day when terrorism, and the hatred which lies at its origin, will be a distant memory of the past.
When this year’s Summer Games are over, will they amount to nothing more than a passing entertainment to occupy our minds for a few days? Or can the stories of courage and commitment to excel in physical endeavors serve as an inspiration to us to take on the even greater challenge of living life as Jesus Christ would have us live? The reward is far greater than Olympic gold.
For Life, Hope & Truth, I’m David Johnson.