What we can learn from the Olympics.
| posted 2/15/2006
The 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy features the phrase "Passion lives here" on walls throughout the Olympic complex. As you watch skiers, skaters, and curlers, this phrase permeates their competitive arenas.
There is no doubt as you watch those in the Olympics that they are passionate. They love their sports so much that it dominates their lives. Everything that does not further their goal is stripped from their schedule so they can obtain that medal.
All of us need passion. Without it, we become apathetic and unproductive. We were made to dream big.
That's probably why we get so excited about the Olympics. I'm amazed that I care about whether a person previously unknown to me wins a medal or not. I'm devastated when someone who has trained long and hard has a bad run and misses his or her chance. I'm delighted when another person achieves his or her long-awaited goal. Why does it matter? I think we all are thrilled at seeing passion.
The apostle Paul understood this underlying need for passion, "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. 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 … " (1 Corinthians 9:24-27a).
The Olympians pour all their passion into a medal that will fade away. Years from now, few who win will be remembered. Others will take their place. But Paul challenged us to pour all our passion into a reward that will never fade away—living for Christ and his kingdom.
Most of us come to Christ passionately, but have trouble sustaining it, just as many hopeful sports enthusiasts hit the slopes or the ice after the Olympics with the intention of becoming proficient, but soon lose their zeal. It's easy to feel the passion momentarily; it's another thing to make it a way of life.
The key for Olympians has to be more than just the recognition they get for a medal. The medal may drive them, but it probably doesn't sustain them. Instead they need a deep, abiding love for the way of life their sport has led them into. Without that, the hope of a medal will grow dim.
So how do we sustain a passion that will carry us through life the way the apostle Paul lived? There are probably as many ways as there are people. What motivates me will probably not motivate you and vice versa. But there do seem to be some universal concepts that drive all of us.
Find Your Passion in Christ Alone
The Olympian must find satisfaction in his or her sport above all else. The Christian, Olympian or not, must find satisfaction in Christ above all else. As basic as this is, Christians seem to lose sight of it quite often.
What too often happens is that Christians try to find satisfaction in something that is of Christ but is not Christ. For example, many find satisfaction in church responsibilities, acts of human kindness, knowledge of Scripture, or close fellowship with other Christians. All these things are good, but none of them can ultimately satisfy. All are good, but all can become warped. Church responsibility can become a noose around your neck. Acts of human kindness can drown you in human need. Knowledge of Scripture can puff you up and make you proud. Close fellowship can become fatally flawed.