MoreThanGoldThe wait is finally over. The London Olympics are here. Tonight, it’s the Opening Ceremony. They say there’s a fair bit of Christian content – Jesus shining through our history and culture.

2012 is a significant year – has Thurrock been ready for it? Are we running the race set before us in unity?

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Euro 2012 in Poland & Ukraine, the Olympic Torch Relay and now the London 2012 Olympics and Paralymics – all have been, and continue to be, opportunities for the church.

We are to be More Than Gold because of the One we follow, the One who is forever More Than Gold. We are to be – in fact, we are – More Than Conquerors, because the One we follow is More Than A Conqueror. Because he has already conquered – he is THE Conqueror! And is name is Jesus.

We must run the race!

Paul the apostle hung out in Ancient Greece at the time of the original Olympics, so he knew a thing or two about training for the games. He often used images from sports in his letters to churches around the Mediterranean…

1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
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 for ever.
Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.
No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

The Olympic Torch came to Grays on Friday 6 July, giving God’s people an opportunity to serve the borough – to witness the love of God to the community through service and practical help, and come alongside the council and make ‘Big Society’ happen. It was a chance to show Thurrock it can be transformed, because the Kingdom is in us and present in the borough.

So we must run the race!

The Olympics is an opportunity to show that the race we run in doesn’t just have one winner – we are all winners. All believers in Jesus get to win the prize – because Jesus has already gone through the finishing tape!

All we have to do is get to the end – it’s not how we start, it’s how we finish. So we must endeavour to keep in the race, to not give up, and to keep in training! It’s worth it in the end!

Philippians 3:12-14
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.

The London 2012 Games are a gift of God to the UK – to us. “For such a time as this” – a witness not just to our locality and to our nation, but to all the world. God wants to reveal himself to the entire planet – through us.

We’re not perfect – we’re just ordinary people being made perfect, heading towards the perfection Jesus has won for us. The world can get to see its Saviour through us who are saved. The world can get to experience the transforming love of God through us who have already been transformed by God’s love. The world can get to choose to continue on its road to nowhere, or transfer over to the ‘Jesus Way’.

So we must run the race!

You can’t run a race backwards! You can’t stop half way and look backwards – you have to keep going and going. We don’t keep looking back, but keep looking forward, keep pressing on – to Jesus, and to all that Jesus has for us. We keep focused on the works of faith Christ has called us to do.

This is what a hurting world needs to see. This is what broken people need to know. This is the life a dying planet needs to be resurrected to.

Hebrews 12:1-2
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The Olympics and Paralympics are ‘the greatest show on earth’ (barring maybe the FIFA World Cup).
The Olympic Games are from 27 July to 12 August, and the Paralympic Games from 29 August to 9 September.

We are surrounded by three clouds of witnesses:

  • The believers who have gone before us and have paved the way for us down through history
  • The believers all around the world who are watching our nation, recognised by many as a Christian nation, a nation from which so much of Christianity around the world can trace its origin
  • The not-yet believers, the sceptics and the downright anti-christians living here who are watching, scrutinising, waiting to see if we are who we say we are

As someone said, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!”

We need to show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

We need to bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit which are opposite to the way the world lives, to the old way we used to live before we knew Jesus.

The world wants to know if we love each other as Jesus commanded – the world wants to know if we’re one in unity and together in harmony as we claim to be.

We have a choice as well. If we have the choicest fruits, won’t the world want to eat from our branches?

So we must run the race!

  • Eyes fixed on Jesus
  • Eyes fixed on the author – he is the Word, he is the beginner, he is the Alpha
  • Eyes fixed on the perfecter – he is the finisher, he is the end, he is the Omega
  • Eyes fixed on the One who died for each of us by running the race of dying on a cross
  • Eyes fixed on the One who overcame and killed death and who rose again from the dead
  • Eyes fixed on the King of the Kingdom of Heaven

The Seven Olympic & Paralympic values with corresponding scriptures

1 Thessalonians 1:3
We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Galatians 6:9
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable— if anything is excellent or praiseworthy— think about such things.

Philippians 2:5-7
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

John 15:15
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

1 Peter 2:17
Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honour the king.

Joshua 1:5-6,9
… I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous… Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

The race continues in the autumn with GSUS LIVE…

Adapted from a talk given at Grays Methodist Church on 27 November 2011 by Tim Harrold.