Stadium             February 2017

The details of the first Olympics show a vast difference from those of today. It was held in 776 Before Christ and the big winner was a cook named Koroibos. Imagine a stadium filled with people and a few contestants. Since there was only one event – the stadion – there would not have been a lot of pre-Olympic marching about and flag waving. What was the event? A single 600-foot straight track race was suitable for deciding who was best. That track is still there to this day.

Now the Olympics are quite another thing.   There are 47 sports in the summer games, and swimming alone has 36 events within that one category. Thousands fill the stadiums to watch hundreds compete in each sport. Acres and acres are devoted to the fields, stadiums, and venues for this two weeks of activities once every four years. The competition to be the country which holds them is almost as fierce as the contests on the field.

One modern day coach said “I can find plenty of great players. It is getting them to work together as a team which is challenging.” If all the players work perfectly together, the coach would be unnecessary.

Now we turn to spiritual warfare.   How does this appear if we put it into the Olympic context? First, everyone is on the field, and there is only One who sits in the stadium.   All of us are playing the games of this world.   Secondly, mixed in among us are our coaches who are playing games of their own and sometimes with different goals in mind. Third, it is not whether we win or lose that matters to this audience of the One. It is how we play the game and why. Enter Christ, who while He was on the field, told us the two greatest laws: Love God and Love your neighbor. Those were the ultimate coaching directives. If one starts there, almost everything else falls into place in God’s plan of peace and prosperity for this little world.

In a recent Special Olympics, a set of similar footrace competitors, whose prime directive apparently was not competitiveness, saw another runner fall. They stopped, all of them, and went back to pick him up. Arm in arm they crossed the finish line as a group; they were all champions.

Around us are runners that need lifting up. Among them, though many fall, will be a unique person. That one will be the final human individual to find joy before Jesus returns. Each of us could be the person who lifts up that one. Then the races and games will be over for those of us who competed from a heart that understood what the contests were about.

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