The 2016 summer Olympics are underway. Having the Olympics run during an election season is an interested dichotomy.
In the political arena, we in America are very split, and we just don’t seem to like one another very much. We seem to be on the brink of civil war; Americans can’t stand one another. There is a brewing war between Police officers many in the black community, and the country is dividing on whose side they ultimately stand on, whether they see institutionalized racism or whether they view officers as victims.
Women are killing their babies, legally, while religious people everywhere weep over those murders.
Trump supporters can’t stand Hillary supporters, Hillary supporters can’t stand Trump supporters, and a very large population can’t stand either of them.
Transgenderism is celebrated, and now people have lost their minds on simple bathroom policies. The only policies that seem to be a more volatile subject are border security and immigration policies.
And the list could continue.
However, when it comes to the athletic arena, no one cares about any of that.
No one wants to know who Phelps is planning to vote for. They just want him to continue to build a house out of gold medals.
No one asks whether the women’s gymnastics team is largely pro-life or not. We simply cheer them on.
Sports that no one cares about for four years, are suddenly on the TV’s of every American home while people jump and cheer over things like field hockey, table tennis, and gymnastics.
Their political affiliations mean nothing to us. How is it, especially in times such as this, we could care so little about the investigation of who these people are, and still care so much about them? These people become heroes overnight, and for all we know, they could be vehemently opposed to us on all political and religious issues under the sun.
How is it we could so passionately root for people, that for all we know, we have nothing in common with?
Well, the Olympics reveal something about human nature: a strong desire for national identity.
People want to be a part of something bigger. They want an identity and a belonging. But they don’t just want any old identity and culture, they want one that is great. That’s why few people care who Michael Phelps is voting for; they just want him to swim faster than other human beings who, through no fault of their own, were born in a country other than the one we view the Olympics from. While these men and women compete, nothing else about them matters to us, we just want to join in with them as they represent the same thing we do.
Two Olympians have really brought to light this year the direction I am heading with this blog: David Boudia and Steele Johnson.
These gold and silver medalists have are a dynamic duo in synchronized diving. They are incredibly talented, and they use their platform to make Christ known. In every interview I have seen they have gone out of their way to establish that their identity is in Christ, not in their medals or performances.
They love the Olympics, and I am sure they love their country, but they love something else more. They are American citizens, but they make it known they belong to a nation much greater.
They are my favorite Olympians. I root for them passionately. Why? We are part of the same nation, and I don’t mean the one they are adorning on their jackets.
It’s not because I love their sport. Synchronized diving is a sport I could not care less about. I don’t watch it year round, and do not find it entertaining. Yet I find myself, watching these men dive. Why? They are brothers; they are my clan, they serve the same King I do. That’s why nothing else matters.
As was said, we all want to belong to something special. And the more medals we win, the more special we feel. That’s why we don’t care if it is swimming or ping pong, volleyball or rugby, track or field hockey, we feel special when our folks win. We feel a part of something great.
It’s strange that we take so much pride in medals, things that won’t follow us beyond the grave.
The God who sits in the heavens above cares very little about power-lifters throwing weight over their heads, and very much about the blood the cries out from the ground by the millions every year in this nation. No Gold medal can erase the blood shed. No athletic victory can hide from God’s eyes our secularization and abominations. God is not impressed with our swimming.
There is something that can erase our guilt though: the blood of Christ. That is something the Father is impressed with. That is something that will follow us beyond the grave. That is something that cost Jesus much more sacrifice than any life dedicated to Olympic games.
And when we are accepted into Christ’s family, we inherit a kingdom, we become a nation.
The nation we become is far greater than America. It has far more to boast about than America. The nation we are a part of has no racial violence, no love for the murder of babies, and no presidential elections. Our nation is ruled, permanently, by a King. And He is just and good, gracious and righteous.
It’s a nation with no medals, but many crowns. It’s a nation that the Apostle Peter describes this way:
1 Peter 2: 9-10,
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
We boast not of podiums and anthems, but of holiness. We boast not as athletes, but as royalty. And we boast, not in what we have done, but in what Christ has done. We boast not in who we are, but in what Christ has and is making us to be. We boast in the Cross of Christ. A possession greater than any medal this world has to offer.
Jesus taught the Kingdom was here. All men are called to repent, be united by faith into Christ, thereby joining Him in His everlasting Kingdom. We can be part of a nation with much to be proud of. We can find a citizenship far greater than our earthly ones.
As Paul says to Christians in Philippians 3: 20, our citizenship is in heaven.