19th Winter Olympics
The 19th Winter Olympics are underway in Utah, to the excitement of much of the world equipped with television or newspapers. We saw hundreds of Olympic Athletes march in the Opening Ceremony. There is one thing that no one can take away from them: for the rest of their lives, they properly can be called "Olympic Athletes".
What do the Olympics tell us about God and The Church?
Before revealing that answer, lets take a closer look at the Olympics. There are several words one can use to describe the athletes. Determined, dedicated, physically fit, committed and prepared are some that come to mind.
If you asked them for some words to describe themselves, they may add the words: honored, privileged, supported by family, grateful for the opportunity.
Some take the attitude that they are only going to be successful if they win the gold medal, while some believe that they already won by getting the opportunity to participate, to represent their country.
There are other honors handed out besides the gold medal. Yes, there are the other medals, silver and bronze, but there's more. There's the honor of being asked to carry a flag, and the honor of being involved in carrying the torch to light the Olympic flame.
But there is another word, too. It is the word much abused today in America and other parts of the world that hold this word too high, ignoring the others already mentioned. It is also a word ignored by many religious people. It is the word, "diversity".
Some of the athletes have tremendous thighs, developed because of the demands of their chosen sport, like speed skaters. While others have focused more on flexibility and graceful movement, like figure skaters.
Varied skills are needed, as some need to develop balance (skiers and ski jumpers), or the ability to twist and turn (snowboarders).
The variety becomes much greater if you add to this mix all those Olympic Athletes that participate in the Summer Games. Some swim for speed, some for synchronization, for example. Some fly through the air on their way into the water from their diving board, while others fly on their way to dunking the ball in the basket. Boxers, weight-lifters, pairs figure-skaters, and the rest are all Olympic Athletes, worthy of our respect.
It may make for a good commercial to have a weight lifter telling a hockey player that skates are for those that can't stand under a little weight, or having a marathon runner criticize a gymnast for their upper-body strength, but it has no other place in the Olympics.
Each Olympic Sport has different demands that it places on the participants, and in order to succeed, they prepare for those particular demands. This is even true of the Decathlon and Biathlon competitions.
So, if the different Olympic athletic sports must have differently focused people with a different set of strengths and limitations, why doesn't the Church realize that the body of Christ is the same way?
We have churches that focus and highlight different parts of the Bible. Instead of accepting the diversity if the different parts of the body, many try to make all the other parts like themselves.
Just as an Olympic-level athlete is out of place when he (or she) criticizes an athlete in another sport for preparing in a different way, and building up different strengths, so are Christians out of place for doing the same.
All Olympic athletes agree to several key points, as we heard on opening day. To be drug-free, to compete fairly, etc. So all Christians, and dare I expand this to say that all God-fearing people throughout history can agree to several key points. (That's another article in the making, check the section on Genesis for more on that.) Yet they have a tremendous diversity, that is an important part of the Olympics. Diversity of nationalities, of cultures, of sports, of types of events. Such is the "Body of God". Many different parts, with many different missions and many different roles. None better than others, just complimentary.
If the Olympics had only one sport, who would want to watch? Wouldn't it be easy then for those athletes to become VERY bigotted about how great they are? What humility could they keep?
God in His ultimate wisdom, has put variety in this life, and in His body.
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