But they did take place, and despite fewer people in the stands, these games were still rich with improbable victories and heartwarming backstories. But I think my greatest takeaway this year is what the Games’ symbolism could offer us Christians.
In the past year and a half, Satan has had a heyday, especially in the church. I read somewhere (and I really wish I could remember where) that sometimes we forget the real source of evil––Satan––and start attacking each other. Sound familiar? All Satan had to do was plant a few seeds of division, step back, and watch the destruction begin. And boy, did it.
So in the wake of the Olympics, I would like to look at the three Olympic symbols in light of our Christian walk.
The Olympic Rings:
These five rings represent the union of the five continents and the meeting of athletes from throughout the world. Despite the historical, cultural, and political differences, the nations and their athletes joined together for a common purpose.
As Christians, despite our differences, we have only one purpose: to bring glory to God. We are to do that through our words, our actions, and our endeavors both individually (Phil. 1:11; 2 Tim. 2:15) and collectively––“striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27).
We would do well to remember that this is what we are supposed to be doing––bringing glory to God. Period.
The Olympic Torch:
A Washington Post article says that “The Olympic flame symbolizes the light of spirit, knowledge and life. By passing the flame from one person to another in stages, the Torch Relay expresses the handing down of this symbolic fire from generation to generation” (The Washington Post).
That is Christianity in a nutshell. Jesus tells His followers that they are “the light of the world….Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14). Our lives should radiate the knowledge of Jesus Christ and His eternal life-giving sacrifice.
And, just as the flame is passed from one person to another, so are we commanded to pass on this good news (Mark 16:15; Matt. 28:19).
The Olympic Motto:
The original Olympic motto––Citius - Altius - Fortius (Faster - Higher - Stronger)––was changed this year to read––Citius, Altius, Fortius - Communiter (Faster, Higher, Stronger - Together).
I am sure that each athlete who attended the games wanted to win, but each also wanted to run faster, jump higher, or be stronger than he or she had before. But for me, the most memorable parts of the Olympics are the times when an athlete sacrifices that win or personal best to help a fellow athlete. As a whole, these athletes understand what each of them had to sacrifice in order to be at the Olympics, probably even more so this past year with such adverse training conditions. Together they have prepared for these games and together they will compete.
Paul challenges each of us “run in such a way to obtain the prize” (1 Cor. 9:24) but we should do so in light of the two greatest commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. . . . and the second is: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself” (Math. 22:37-39). Run as to win the race, but do it together.
We are called to be unified despite our differences, be God’s light in a dark world, pass the torch of Good News, and bring glory to God: our rings, our torch, our motto.