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Sunday, 5 August 2012

The Great Leveller

There are several events I enjoy watching, and the 2012 London Olympics has given me the opportunity to watch what I believe are the fast endurance events, such as the men's and women's road cycle races and that which is the closest to my heart - the triathlon. The Women's Triathlon was broadcast yesterday (Saturday August 4th) with Nicola Spirig of Switzerland just about taking the gold, after the dead-heat finish with Lisa Norden of Sweden, with both finishing at 1:59:48.00.
Third was Erin Densham who took bronze after finishing in 1:59:50.00

The result of this event was that only the three in the medals broke the two-hour barrier. Fourth was Sarah Groff  (USA) who finished at exactly 2:00:00.00, while the first British female triathlete was Helen Jenkins who came fifth, clocking 2:00:19.00.

As for the Men's Triathlon, at the time of writing, still due to be staged this coming Tuesday, I'll be taking the morning off work to watch it on TV! And the Men's Road Cycling event was won by Alex Vinokurov of Kazakhstan and in the Women's Road Cycling, on the next day, the gold was taken by Marianne Vos of the Netherlands. There was only one British gold winner in such events, as far as I know, and that was Bradley Wiggins who won the men's cycling time trials, not bad either, after winning the Yellow Jersey in the Tour de France just a few weeks earlier.

But the greatest Olympic medal winner of all time must be swimmer Michael Phelps of the USA, who in London, collected four golds and two silvers at the indoor Aquatics pool. In all, throughout his swimming career, Phelps collected a total of 28 Olympic medals, and he had just retired last night after winning gold in the men's relay medley.

The Opening Ceremony of the Athens 2008 Olympics

All these athletes have superb, well trained bodies suited to their chosen sport. But it was during the Opening Ceremony that we were reminded of the dreadful fact that none of them will remain in their peak of fitness over time. Even Michael Phelps chose to retire now, while he was still on top, rather than see himself slipping down the field, then failing to qualify for the next Olympics altogether. At the Opening Ceremony, former world boxing champion Muhammad Ali appeared at the stadium, literally supported by an assistant, as his body is presently wracked by Parkinson's Disease. To see him in such a state was heartbreaking. This was because I was around when he as at the peak of his boxing career. He was born as Cassius Clay in 1942, and began training as a boxer after his bicycle was stolen when he was a boy. In 1960 he won gold in the Light Heavyweight title at the Rome Olympics, and the story goes, that he refused to take the medal off his chest for a period of time, even in the bath. Clay changed his name to Muhammad Ali after joining the Nation of Islam in 1964, then aged only 22 years old. His motto was, I am the Greatest!

Cassius Clay (left) not long after turning professional

And this is where he made his biggest mistake. Ali should not have said "I am the Greatest!" - but "God is the Greatest!" Now we see him, some seventy years of age, having to be supported by an assistant. There are plenty of men who are older than him but can get about as freely as anyone in good health. Even the Duke of Edinburgh is old enough to be Ali's father, yet save for a recent bladder infection, he can get around freely without assistance.

As a Christian, my heart goes out for all these athletes, past and present. God says of them, as he does to all mankind, that he is patient, and not willing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

Death is the great leveller. As Solomon once wrote, there is really no difference between a king and a worm, for the same fate awaits them both. Life, with all its glories, is a cruel vanity.

But God, in his love, is more than willing to give eternal life to all who believe on his Son, Jesus Christ, who was crucified to atone for our sins, and then is risen, conquering death altogether!

Jesus Christ is risen. And we don't have to wait until Easter to celebrate this. We can celebrate any time of the year. In the remainder of this blog, I would like to show some striking similarity between the Olympic Games and eternal salvation.

Christ died to atone for our sins, and is risen from the dead. Thus eternal life is given as a free gift to all who have faith in Jesus crucified. To qualify for the Olympics is also free. The athlete does not pay a sum of money to compete, at least, as far as I know. After qualifying, they get a free entry. They then become Olympians. Likewise, as a Christian believer follows the lead of the Holy Spirit within him, he starts to win crowns as heavenly rewards. These rewards will be at a heavenly presentation known by Bible scholars as the Judgement Seat of Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:5-15, 2 Corinthians 5:10). It is a rostrum, and believers from all ages will be rewarded on how he had lived his Christian life. At the top end, the reward is the Crown of Life, which is given to all who were martyred for their faith. Various other crowns are rewarded, such as the Crown of Righteousness, given to those who eagerly waited for his return. There may be also a soul-winner's crown as well. And there will be other rewards too, such as the crown for overcoming the flesh. But also at the rostrum will be believers who led carnal lives while alive on Earth. These will get nothing, except seeing their flesh-motivated works getting burnt up. For them this will be a time of tears and feelings of regret. Very much like the tears of Olympians who had just missed out on a medal.

But even the carnal Christians will be saved. After God wiping away their tears, they will spend eternity with Christ forever. Why so? Because they are just as much part of the Body and Bride of Christ as the crown-winners. From this rostrum no one will end up in Hell. No bride, as far as I know, had voluntarily amputated any of her body parts before walking up the aisle!

In short one can put it this way:
The athlete, after qualifying, becomes an Olympian, a title he keeps for life.
The believer, through faith, becomes a Christian, and forever be united with Christ.

The Olympian must strive to win the race to receive his prize, a medal.
The Christian must keep on walking in the power of the Holy Spirit to win his prize, a crown.

After the heavenly Judgement seat of Christ is accomplished, according to many Bible scholars, there follows the heavenly communion, the partaking of the bread and wine, a reminder of the breaking of Christ body and his blood spilt in order to atone for the sins of every believer in Heaven (Revelation 19:1-10). This, in my mind, is the most important heavenly event in all eternity. After physical death, this is the greatest leveller ever to take place. Every saint in Heaven is there only because Christ died for them, and death was conquered by him for them. This supper will prevent the one with many crowns looking down on those with nothing. The heavenly supper will prevent any form of boasting. Every saint will be humbled, realising that their presence is wholly the work of Jesus Christ.

I have never known an Olympian gold medallist looking down or boasting over those who had never reached such a pinnacle in life. There seems to be no record of arrogance among Olympic medallists. It seems to me that having a gold medal placed around the victor's neck is a humbling experience.

Being reminded of the sacrifice Jesus Christ made on our behalf will have an even greater humbling effect on all believers. Such is the great leveller.


  1. Hello Frank,
    you have made very good comparisons to salvation and the olympic games. The lovely thing is that with salvation there is no entry fee {salvation is free}, and there is no dress code {all can come as they are}.

  2. Preach it, Frank! Wonderful message -- I pray that many unsaved will read it and come closer to knowing Him. Without Him, we can do nothing, but with Him, all things are possible. Thanks for the great post, & God bless,

  3. Amen! I never thought of the Judgement Seat of Christ and the following supper in this light before. I am loving the insight God has given you to share!

    Thank you so much!

  4. Great post.

    While some athletes are very proud, others are aware that just a minor change would have completely changed the outcome. I was thrilled that Lithuania's basketball team almost beat the US because it humbled them a little.

  5. What an insight you have Frank. God proves that whatever we are and whatever our background, He can shape us all for better things. We all must keep our eyes on the prize hey?! What an Olympics it's been what with Jessica Ennis winning the Heptathlon and Mo winning the 10,000 metres and Bradley Wiggins getting gold on the time trials. The best things in life are just a small taste of eternal life.

  6. I enjoyed your post and when I have time (!) I want to read more as you seem to be a thoughtful person. Greetings from Arizona. (I see you were here in the late 1990's -- yes, the dark skies are wonderful here!)

  7. Frank,
    I don't know if it is something wrong with my blog,or something you have not done on yours, but your latest post What is hell is not coming up.

    1. Dear Brenda,
      There is nothing wrong with your blogging website.
      I was not fully satisfied with my latest blog, "What is Hell?" therefore I have deleted it on the previous evening.
      But keep an eye on this page. My latest will be re-written and should appear here soon.
      God bless,