With the closing ceremonies of last Sunday night, the 2018 Winter Olympics ended for this year. I love to watch the athletes competing in the various sports; they are so amazing with what they have learned to do. It is humbling to see some put so many years into training and fund raising, sacrificing personal lives for the opportunity to compete, only to wash out of competition on their first day. Would I dare to compete knowing that it could all be over in a couple of minutes?
What makes us strive so? No matter whether we are talking about a sports competition, an art form, or possessing the best of anything, people are constantly striving to be acclaimed as the best. As I said for the Ash Wednesday meditation, I am not convinced that it is just for the medal or to have their team or sponsoring country honored. I believe there is something much simpler driving the athletes to compete; I believe many compete just for love of the game.
What does that say to us? As followers of Christ Jesus, just as for the Olympic athletes, we find there are many temptations to personal power, influence, or possessions. All of these have the potential to direct our efforts in ways that have nothing to do with transforming hearts. We must always guard against letting our efforts showcase what we can do lest we close the door on a personal encounter with the one who makes it possible to overcome our brokenness and failings. Only Jesus can lead people to know there is healing for past decisions, help for present difficulties, and hope for moving forward.
So, what should we do? What steps can we take to protect us from acts that put ourselves forward? First, I believe we need to stay connected to a community of Christ followers who will challenge us to grow spiritually. Such a group would help us examine our motives behind what we do, say, and think. Such a group, whether a small group or a congregation, would stress the need to love God most of all, and love every person, place, and thing that God has made.
Because this can be so difficult, we need to expect that same group to help us live this way continuously. Remembering that it was God’s love that turned our lives around, we will better be able to share the truth that only God’s love will help those around us. Thus, we cannot be a Christ follower and expect accolades. If we are not doing this for the love of Jesus, our hearts are in the wrong place and God’s love is not in us.
As we continue through this season of Lent, let’s ask God to surround us with dedicated Christ followers who can help us to grow more and more in love with him. May Jesus’ name be praised in every aspect of our lives.
Grace and peace,