It’s been just a few weeks since the Olympics have concluded. For two weeks we witnessed the greatest athletes in the world coming together to compete in various events, all in hopes of winning “the gold”! Representing their country – the best of the best all in one place! It’s really a great accomplishment to simply get there and have the opportunity to compete. But they do not give out medals for simply participating, they give out medals for winning. For all of you that tuned in to watch some of the coverage of the Summer Olympics, I want to explain to you that there is a good reason you didn’t see me there competing this year – I’m not qualified! Not for any of the events … even though I did play a little badminton back in my neighborhood as a kid growing up. But the way they play even badminton in the Olympics I’m not qualified to even carry their rackets, much less compete. I could train hard and try my best, but I just don’t have what it takes. I can’t run fast enough, or jump high enough or perform at any of those events well enough to earn an invite to join in the games.
Now that’s not to say that some are not qualified to be there … to compete … and even to win. We watched them as they stood on the platform with a gold medal around their neck as their countries’ national anthem played – the best in the world at that moment. And we celebrated with them and applauded their accomplishments. But given time, someone will better their time on the track or get a higher judges score in the competition that they just won, that’s just the way sports are. No victory is eternal, it’s just for the moment. No world records ever stand indefinitely and no athletes can remain at the same level of competitiveness forever. But we still enjoy tuning in, watching it all unfold … and the underdogs? We love the underdogs!
Those that just really aren’t considered the best. They should just be happy to be there, but should they expect to win? No, not according to how everyone else sees it. They are told they don’t have what it takes, but then the impossible seems to happen – somehow they pull off the upset. They shock the world and against all odds they come out on top. I can still remember the 1980 U.S. ice hockey team – the “miracle on ice” they call it! Why do so many cheer for the underdog? I think it’s simply because we feel we can relate more with them than we can the elite world record athletes that are always expected to win. The ones that have so much against them and yet somehow they end up winning, it’s them that strike a chord in our heart. I guess we see more of our own humanity in the underdog. Maybe it gives a spark of hope when we see them up on that platform wearing a gold medal!
But my intent is really not just to share with you about the Olympics, but about life. Eternal life! The prize that really matters. The prize that never gets old, never wears out and it’s not a prize you have to wait to receive at some other time in some other place – it’s awarded now! It’s the life we receive when we believe on Jesus and are reborn as a new creation in Him. It’s the life that causes us to be seated in heavenly places in Christ (Wow, that’s even higher than the gold medal stand). But it’s a life that no matter how determined the efforts of our humanity may be, we can never achieve it ourselves. This relationship with Jesus and this abundant life is not something we are qualified to receive on our own. We don’t have what it takes to earn it, none of us do.
“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
Everyone of us fell short, we were disqualified by sin. The ultimate eternal underdogs, with no hope whatsoever of measuring up and making “team Jesus” – the family of God. But something happened that made the “miracle on ice” look like nothing – you guessed it, the “miracle of redemption”! The ultimate victory for the underdog! The ultimate hope and reality for the helpless and hopeless (which was all of us)! Maybe you are in high school or headed to college, maybe you are getting married or divorced, maybe you are having your first child or have lost a child, maybe you are out working your 9 to 5 or the night shift at the plant or were just laid off from you job, maybe you are trying to start up your own company or maybe you have retired and are entering a new chapter of life – whatever we do and where ever we are in the journey, the need and the answer is the same for all of us. It’s Jesus and abundant life! We need Him!
“Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” Colossians 1:12 [NASB]
Jesus came and qualified and competed on the stage of humanity. He lived, died and was resurrected and won the decisive victory over sin, and He did it for us and as us. You might say we now have the gold, but it’s not a medal around our necks, but His life in our hearts! We are participates in His divine nature, the abundant life. He came so that He could share Himself with us – so that our very existence could be experienced in Him and defined by Him! We don’t need to live as if we are watching everything from the sideline just wishing we could participate. And we don’t have to live feeling like we are just falling farther behind, as life just seems to run circles around us. No! They are playing our song and we belong on the victor’s stand!
Praise God! We can truly live as who we are in Christ – victors! It’s a victory that makes us humble and compassionate, not arrogant and self-centered. It’s a victory that has overcome everything we could think or imagine might ever keep us separated from Him and bound by the limitations of sin or the flesh. Through grace alone we are now qualified to participate in the victory of Jesus. It’s finished and complete and we now have His life adorning our hearts and overflowing into this life we now live! Do you hear it? It’s the eternal anthem of heaven that’s playing – so let’s accept our place in Him on the victor’s stand and celebrate, we have been eternally qualified and we have all won – it’s for whosoever!
Love in Jesus,