Ready for the Olympics?

July 13, 2021

The eyes of the world are slowly turning to Tokyo, Japan. For a number of years now, Japan has been preparing to host the 2021 Olympics. This is a world-wide event that is an honor to host, and major cities around the world vie for this every-four-years privilege. The games were slated to be in Japan last year from July 24 to August 9, but the world-wide pandemic shut down the games. This year the world conditions have improved enough that they will be held July 23 to August 8. The International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government issued an earlier statement saying, "Everybody is really determined to make this Olympic Games the light at the end of the tunnel we have all been in.”

The Olympics have a long and storied history. They originated in ancient Greece as many as 3,000 years ago and were revived in the late 19th century and have become the world’s preeminent sporting competition. From the 8th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D., the Games were held every four years in Olympia in honor of the god Zeus. The first modern Olympics took place in 1896 in Athens, and featured 280 participants from 13 nations, competing in 43 events. Since 1994, the Summer and Winter Olympic Games have been held separately and have alternated every two years. The Olympic Games are considered the world's foremost sports competition with more than 200 nations participating. This summer, 11,238+ athletes will participate in 339 events, including 33 different sports.

These athletes from all over the world have trained, sacrificed, and given up so much of themselves to focus on this one main purpose and goal: to compete in the games. They have had rigorous schedules, strict diets, and exhausting training. They have to find and follow a coach and find financing. They have many steps to go through in order to actually compete in the Olympics. They have to get many significant wins under their belts in order to actually make it there. And once there, they have to be sure to not disqualify themselves.

We have already seen controversy and disqualification. U.S. track sensation Sha'Carri Richardson, who got her ticket to the Tokyo Games after winning the women’s 100-meter race has been suspended for one month after failing a drug test following her Olympic qualifying 100-meter race victory at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon, on June 19.

"Richardson’s competitive results obtained on June 19, 2021, including her Olympic qualifying results at the Team Trials, have been disqualified, and she forfeits any medals, points, and prizes," a statement from the USADA said. The suspension takes Richardson out of running in her signature event at the Tokyo Games.

The apostle Paul was familiar with the Games and the races that were so significant. He gave an example from them to speak to us about how we should value and handle our own races: “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 forever.” 1 Corinthians 9:24

He said the Christian life is like a race. The way we run makes a difference. Verses 23, 24, 25, and 27 tell us that the way we run decides whether we have a share in the gospel, whether or not we get the prize of the upward call of God, whether or not we gain the crowns of righteousness and life, and whether we are disqualified from the race.

In other words, life is not a game without lasting consequences. The way we live our lives has eternal consequences. Every single day matters. Every choice matters. Every day, we are choosing who we are, whom we trust, and what we cherish. Our impact for God, our satisfaction in this life, our rewards from Jesus all hinge on how we run the race. Jesus wants us to win!

Each one of us runs our individual race—we are not in competition against anyone else. He is committed to us winning, to sticking with us, but we must run with a true realization of the significance of the race. We don’t take a day off; we don’t play fast and loose with our decisions. We are careful to keep our eyes on the goal so we are not disqualified. The reward is worth it and the race itself is worth it.

Run to win.