I love the Olympics.
Let me tell you why.
It’s not for the reasons you might imagine. I am not a huge sports nut. I don’t cheer for any sport, other than Hockey (I am Canadian). I’ve never once played on a sports team, and in high school did not take Phys Ed. I don’t dislike sports; I’m just saying it’s not something I live for.
Instead what I really love is that at the heart of it all, the Olympics stand for something beautiful. If you take a little perusal of the basic symbols, you find some interesting stuff. As perhaps you know, the flag contains 5 Olympic circles that stand for the 5 continents; the colors on the flag represent all nations. The basic notion of the flag is a celebration of world unity. Awesome.
As a kid, I got into this idea of peace. It was the 90’s resurgence of 60’s fashion and ideals, and I was all over it. I liked to draw peace symbols and like a lot of kids at that time started wearing hippie clothes and jewelry. I grew up on a farm and was about 5 minutes away from a tiny village that basically contained 10 people, a post office, and a church. I drew a poster with a peace symbol and slogans and I asked the postmaster if I could hang it up in the post office. I was basically John Lennon, but unlike him I got out of bed. He let me hang it (the postmaster, not John Lennon), but the next time I was there it was gone. This is just a funny little story about an idealistic farm girl, but in my heart I thought I was doing something.
The Olympics are not without controversy; and like most beautiful things in this world it has its ugly sides as well. Sometimes though it’s nice to be able to take something that means well, cherish it, and be thankful. In recent years the Olympics have been striving towards gender equality, environmental sustainability, and as always, racial acceptance and understanding. And so, the Olympic hope and purpose, along with the exciting and inconceivable feats of athletes – is truly a beautiful thing to me. It doesn’t just think it’s doing something, it is.
I love the Church.
Let me tell you why.
It’s not for the reasons you might imagine. I’m not huge into evangelism. I don’t believe the churches primary mission is to save as many souls as possible so that the heathens can avoid the fiery flames. I don’t go to church to find out what my political beliefs should be, and to learn how to condemn those who don’t hold them. And while certainly lovely, I don’t go to church to marvel at beautiful and spectacular buildings. No, in fact these things cause irritation and lack of interest.
Instead what I really love is that at the heart of it all, Christianity stands for something beautiful. If you take a little perusal of the Bible, you will find it is full of fascinating stuff. As perhaps you know, Jesus stood for some interesting ideas. He treated women with a respect and dignity that was not common in his society. Jesus interacted with people from other cultures/religions/statuses in a way that was unheard of. And, interestingly enough, he had no concern with personal power but instead rejected it. Yes, some strange and awesome things take place in the Bible, and there are many remarkable messages that are worth taking note of. It is my conviction that it is the task of the church to embody these wonderful beliefs.
As a kid, I got into this idea of Jesus. I liked to sing and would create my own little songs about how much I loved him. I’d go outside, climb up on the swing set, swing as high as I could… and sing my heart out. This is a good memory. It reminds me. It reminds me that the message of Jesus does something in my heart.
The Church is not without controversy; and like most beautiful things in this world it has its ugly sides as well. I wish I were better at putting those ugly things aside and instead could remember to love the Church for the beautiful ideas it is suppose to represent. If “Church” only happened every 2 years for a few weeks, maybe this would be easier.
Yet we don’t have a winter and summer Churchlympics, it is a daily thing. Therefore there are daily mistakes and achievements, and they are easily seen.
I certainly don’t want less church; I don’t want something quick and fast, and extravagant. What I want is the church that causes me to sing, that might cause me to be proud to display its message. I want the church that gets me Olympic-level-excited, its message so Jesus centered I can’t help but be enthusiastic.
As a teen I was complaining about something church related, and I’ll always remember my dad’s response. He quietly asked, “So, why don’t you make it better”. And that is the question, isn’t it? If I want something, then what is the task? What am I going to do?
What are you going to do? And how my friends, are we going to do it?
The church is drowning in hate, politics, abuses, and much more. How do we liberate it?
The Olympic flag suggests that we should strive towards unity. The Bible encourages us to live as one body. This is never easy or finished, but I suggest it is worth the struggle.
This is a cause I’m willing to strive towards.
Will you join me?