Our country is abuzz tonight….most people are talking, hoping and anticipating tomorrow’s Olympic gold medal hockey game between the Canadian and the Swedish teams. As a Canadian, my desired outcome should be fairly obvious.
However, while driving home this evening I began to contemplate the strange nature of a sporting event, played thousands of miles away on a different continent, yet uniting a country filled with people of many different classes, ethnic origins and income levels. Interestingly enough, no matter where you fall on that spectrum tonight, here in Canada at least, the level of anticipation for tomorrows match and hoped for medal is nearly palpable.
As a Christian, I have the opportunity to share in this sense of collective nationalism, but also to think my way through its gospel implications. So, rather than being that anti everything Kill joy that some people think we Christians are, I wanted to share some reflections on some of the parallels between this national sporting moment and the true meaning of our existence.
Unity- just like Canada’s national past time will bring together an entire country at 7am eastern tomorrow to watch, to hope, and hopefully, to celebrate something bigger than their individual lives, our common faith, made possible by the death of Christ on our behalf, brings people from many different places together. Regardless of race, creed, culture, geographic location – all of we believers have a shared identity- children of the King of Heaven, heirs to the Kingdom, adopted by His Son. So, when you feel the unique thrill of knowing that you are one of millions of people watching the same event and hoping for the same outcome, remember, because you were bought with a price- you are part of a bigger family- not just the population of a single country, but rather part of the family of God, globally, not just now, but through the ages. You have an identity, a place to belong that is both timeless and beyond explanation. Revel in it.
Tension- the Already and the Not Yet – Typical Canadian sporting arrogance demands that as a Canadian, I should assume that a gold medal win is nearly a given. (If you don’t agree with me, at least bear with me for the purposes of this illustration). I lay my head on my pillow tonight, knowing that tomorrow should bring another victory, another display of sporting superiority, but yet knowing that the battle before the victory is not yet complete. If you have listened to any of the messages that I have shared for my FMC family, you may remember that sometimes as believers we talk about the tension between the “already” and the “not yet”, how we recognize as believers that Christ has already defeated death, hell and the devil. Yet, we know that right now, we still remain in that cosmic batter of eternal significance. But when the “not yet “ is over, when the sky splits, when my King comes back, that tension will forever be gone. As you watch with trepidation and concern, remember that the tension of a single game is nothing compared to the importance of living through that tension of an entire lifetime well. Even nail biting can point to eternity.
Anticipation- all of us long for that moment of euphoria- that moment when the final buzzer sounds, the sirens sound, and all that’s left is the celebration of the accomplishment. When the score is on our side, we want that clock to run fast when the score is “against us”, we want that clock to run slow. It is the victory that we are anticipating, the sense of accomplishment, the knowledge that to an extent, we have prevailed against the world. I’m sitting here, contemplating, wondering: How would my life look differently if I anticipated an eternity with Christ as much as a Canadian anticipates a gold medal win? Tough question, eh?
Ultimate Reward- just as a team plays for Olympic gold, something that needs to be earned through training, effort, and commitment, so too believers need to live for a reward that has lasting value. The Psalmist, himself obviously a keen sportsman, recognized that all of us live for an end, reminding us in Psalm 16 that in the Presence of God is “fullness of life”, and that at His right hand are pleasures forevermore. Fullness, forever – ultimate reward, ultimate satisfaction. The best part of it – you don’t need to requalify again in four years!
So, as you lay your head down tonight, and as you spring out of bed in the morning, you have a chance to contemplate how the Creator of the Universe created all things to point to Him and His plan to redeem the whole of humanity for His glory. Something as simple as a hockey game can remind us that there are timeless reminders of the gospel in all good things. As a Christian, you can cheer, knowing that the victory that you ultimately seek is much bigger than one game and has already been won on your behalf.
Rest in his grace. Anticipate his glory. All of life is worship when you worship the One who created and brought meaning to all things.