How thrilling must it be to win a medal at the Olympic Games!
After years of absolutely single-minded dedication, sacrifice, coaching and sheer hard work, a select few come away from the Games with the ultimate prize. Even sitting at home watching from miles away, we can get a sense of the intensity of joy, relief, and glory to be crowned champion.
Yet for all the thrill of the Games, all the fuss and glory of “the greatest show on earth”, the effects of all that effort are only temporary. In the ancient Greek games, the winners were awarded a crown of olive leaves rather than a medal. And like the crown of leaves, eventually the victors fade away into the history books and are largely forgotten.
The Bible tells us of a prize which is far superior to a crown or medal at the Olympic Games. It is available to all those who make the aim of their lives now the pursuit of “the Kingdom of God and His righteousness”. (Matthew 6:33, NKJV).
It is a gift of eternal life in God’s Kingdom, which He will set up here on Earth and the Lord Jesus will be ruling as King. We will be offered the chance to work with him to bring justice, peace and glory to our troubled world.
Unlike the Olympics, we are not in competition with others for this prize, but the glory and honour that will come with it will far surpass anything this world can offer. It will be awarded not on merit – we are not asked to be the best, the fastest, the strongest – but to put our trust in and align ourselves with the “team” of the one man, the Lord Jesus, who has already won the victory.
But like the Olympic competitors, if we want to obtain this wonderful prize of eternal, perfect life in God’s glorious Kingdom, we need to dedicate our lives to it. Reflecting on the Games, the apostle Paul wrote, “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)
How utterly thrilling it will be to win the ultimate prize of “the crown of glory that does not fade away” (1 Peter 5:4)!