The Olympics – when we all become insanely interested in sports we know nothing about (and until this week possibly cared nothing about), scream wildly at our screens for people we’ve only just heard about (though we now consider them to be close friends), and cry uncontrollably for human interest stories awash in emotions on steroids (metaphorically, of course).
Tonight, David Boudia and Steele Johnson won a silver medal for the US of A when they leapt backwards off a 10-meter platform, did a couple-and-a-half somersaulty things while also doing a couple-and-a-half twisty things at the same time, and then hit the water at the same time, at the same angle, making the same amount of non-splash.
I have a difficult time walking the length of my house without tripping over something or other, so everything Olympian is a mystery to me. But it seemed to be just another day at the office for Boudia and Johnson.
I don’t know David or Steele personally, but I would like to say “thank you” to them. Not because they represent my state (Indiana) and school (Purdue) with class. Not because they proudly wear the red, white, and blue. Not because they are bringing home silver for my country.
I want to say “thank you” to David and Steele because of this:
because when asked about their performance and medal, they didn’t turn their faith into a commercialized soundbite, point to the sky and say, “All glory to God for giving us this win” – as though God cared about them more than any of the other divers;
because when asked about their dives and scores, they didn’t imply that God pulled a rabbit out of a hat with a voila! hey, presto! surprise! you win!, but rather acknowledged the amount of hard work it takes to become an Olympic champion and credited each other with mutual challenging and pushing towards the prize;
because – and please don’t miss this because it matters immensely – when asked about their apparent sense of competitive yet calm confidence, they said this: they said that their identity does not lie in being a diver, or an Olympian, or a champion, but rather their identity lies in Christ – and that will never change, regardless of how they perform or score.
That’s it. No talk about how God has especially blessed them, or given them great victory over others, or shown them special favor. No talk about their own spiritual vauntedness. No talk reducing God to a winning-coach, prize-giver, or rewards-center. Instead, just a statement of everyday eternal truth:
the identity of those who follow Jesus is grounded in the fact that they are in Christ and Christ is in them.
Nothing else in life falls into its correct place aside from this foundational truth.
Whether we are a teacher, welder, merchant, musician, pastor, coach, banker, doctor, mentor, nurse, therapist, driver, doctor, artist, or diver, our identity is in Christ.
I rather doubt the statements from David Boudia and Steele Johnson will be repeated and replayed in the Olympic news coverage. They weren’t flashy or controversial enough.
No bother. We can – and must – repeat and replay them for ourselves. Daily. Hourly. Always.
We are His. We are His.
What else matters but that?
But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12, NLT)
But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him. (I Corinthians 6:17, NLT)
All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it. (I Corinthians 12:27, NLT)
See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! (I John 3:1, NLT)