Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:3)
Sometimes when I look at the world around me, all I seem to see is the posturing of politicians, the arrogance of athletes, the intolerance of church leaders, and the anger of people who feel disrespected. At times it moderates my hope and dims the esteem that I want to have for those among whom I live. It makes it difficult for me to watch and support the
activities in which these people lead and live. As this round of Olympic Games comes to an end, I recognize that our athletes are people too, fallen and broken like me, and do not always behave well. An Egyptian wrestler refused to shake an opponent’s hand because of his nationality … an American swimmer behaved badly in the wee hours of the morning … a soccer player made an immature comment after a well fought match on the pitch. But I also find that the Games offer far more moments of good sportsmanship.
Abbey D’Agostino and Nikki Hamblin are the poster-women for sportsmanship this Olympic season. If you have watched even a small amount of Olympic coverage in recent days you have most likely seen their Tuesday collision during the women’s 5,000 meter run … and followed the after-story. When you think of the level of training and dedication it takes to get to the Olympic Games, and the reality that an athlete’s moment to test themselves against the world is in many cases a “one and out” … it was remarkable to watch these women show more concern for each other and their well-being, than the race in which they were competing. It was for me, and maybe you, remarkable and inspiring.
The Bible calls this kind of act, charis … grace. It comes directly from God, without whom we would not be able to comprehend what grace looks like. It embodies the very best of who God is. It is more potent than just the power of forgiveness, and more expansive than just being kind. It defines what life is, and God is the one to first model it for us. Being charitable is a part of it … being charismatic is a derivative quality of it … being graceful is in the playing field, too. But it is more than each of them, either individually or combined. I’ll suggest that is it simply God … for us … and in us … and working through us. Even that is inadequate. I guess when “words” betray us, then we look to the “Word” to carry the day. In your prayers this week, try that … wander through Scripture … maybe review your favorite stories … and revisit why they are so meaningful to you and so powerful.