Until August 12, the world’s eyes will be focused on the city of London as the Games of the XXX Olympiad play out. If look at the history of the Olympics, and compare the ancient Greek games to the spiritual life, we may be surprised to find God.
In 1894, French educator Pierre de Coubertin suggested that the Olympic Games of ancient Greece be restored as a way to contribute to a more peaceful world. As a result, the modern Olympic Games began in Athens, Greece, on this day in, 1896. About three hundred athletes from fewer than fifteen countries competed in forty-three events covering nine sports. The 2012 Summer games include more than 10,000 athletes representing 205 nations.
The ancient Olympic Games date from 776 B.C. and were held in the summer every four years in the sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia. Competitions included footraces, boxing, wrestling, long jumping, discus, and javelin throwing. Victors received crowns of wild olive. Roman emperor Theodosius I ended the Games around A.D. 393.
In order to be in top form for the Games, Greek athletes endured an unbelievably strict training regimen of exercise, personal discipline, and self-denial. Once they entered competition, they risked serious injuries from the rough sports. As believers, we also need to exercise our faith and develop self-discipline to live a life of godliness. We risk injury every time we contend with the world or with Satan in spiritual battle unless we are protected by prayer and the armor God has provided (see Ephesians 6:10-18) .
The comparison of the Games to the spiritual life ends with the prize. Greek athletes competed for a wreath that began to wither even before the athlete won the crown. Their reward was temporary; ours is eternal. We work for a prize that will never fade away—eternal life and a heavenly inheritance. When our competition is over, we will be rewarded with a crown that lasts forever, and we will receive it from the One who wore a crown of thorns for us.
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9:25, NIV
To read a collection of fascinating facts about the history of the Olympics, including some strange ones, visit the Curious Olympics website.
At the Christian Post, see their article about 10 Christian Athletes to watch in the London 2012 Olympics.
Here’s a good message that was posted on YouTube: Be Like Olympic Athletes for Christ (from Forward Church):
© Dianne Neal Matthews (www.DianneNealMatthews.com). Dianne is a freelance writer and the author of four daily devotional books. This article is adapted from her book, The One Year on This Day (Tyndale House).