People from all over the world are getting ready to watch more than 10,500 athletes from 206 different countries, competing in 28 sports, working hard to make it to the podium and receive a golden, silver or bronze medal. Yes, I’m talking about the 2016 Summer Olympics also known as Rio 2016 which happens to be in my home country – Brazil.
This is the first time that the Olympic Games are going to be held in a South American country and these will be the first games to be held entirely during the host country’s winter season – but there’s nothing to be worried about, in Rio it’s hot and sunny all year round!
The nation is filled with excitement and now that the time has arrived, all the worries about not being prepared to host such a significant event are forgotten and the Brazilians just want to make the most of it. The country is going to stop for 15 days (or more, knowing the Brazilian culture they will probably still be partying a month after the games are over) to celebrate the greatest sporting event of all.
While most people are looking forward to the Opening Ceremony with all its artistic attractions, the Parade of the Nations and the lighting of the Olympic flame, we know that for the athletes what really matters is the closing ceremony. It’s about how they are going to finish the Olympics and how many medals they’ve received at the end. For the athletes, it’s not about the way the Olympics start but the way they will finish. When the apostle Paul writes about his journey of faith, he emphasises the way he is finishing it.
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”– 2 Timothy 4:6-8
The faith that Paul has kept is not faith in himself, or in any man. It is faith in Christ Jesus. In chapter 3, verse 15, he said to Timothy that the Scriptures “are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” And, in the words of John Piper, when you have faith in somebody, it means you take them at their word, you count on them to live up to what they say, you trust their counsel, you have confidence in their promises. When Paul said, “I have kept the faith,” he meant “I have kept on taking Christ at his word, I have kept on counting on what he said, I have kept on trusting his counsel, I have kept on having confidence in his promises.”
Just like the Olympic athletes, what really matters for us as Christians is the way we will finish the race. We might not even be able to remember how we started it but we, like Paul, want to be able to say that right to the end, we kept the faith and received the most precious award: eternity with our beloved King.
Julia Trarbach is an Associate in her 2nd year at All Saints Crowborough