by Barry Newton
Overcome by the realization of winning an Olympic medal, how many times in recent days have athletes found themselves stumbling for words to describe their thoughts and feelings?
Invariably, if the interview continues for any duration, some mention is made of the sacrifices that have been made. Sometimes we learned that the price of winning has included forgoing eating dessert for two years, while typically the sacrifices allude to demands of a strenuous regimen.
The hope to be their country’s representative in receiving a metal medallion hung around their neck on the international Olympic stage has driven these athletes to alter their lifestyles and rigorously exert themselves. Hope transforms.
While their personal ability to win a medal was uncertain, they were confident that the Olympics would occur. Competition would happen. And they knew that if they were ready for that moment, they could win. Hope transforms.
Comparing the motives between an Olympic athlete and a Christian can be pressed too far, but almost 2,000 years ago John wrote about how the expectation of Christ’s return should transform those who live with anticipation for that day.
“We know that when he appears we will be like him, because we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope focused on him purifies himself, just as Jesus is pure” (1 John 3:2,3).
Although an athlete trains in order to earn the reward, whereas a Christian casts off ungodly characteristics in order to be more like Christ, both put forth the effort because they know the day is coming. Hope transforms.
Similarly, in view of the hope embedded in receiving God’s promises to dwell among his people and to claim them as his own, Paul encourages Christians, “Let us purify ourselves from everything that could defile the body and the spirit, thereby perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). Hope transforms.
If we find ourselves plateaued in our spiritual development into the image of Christ, perhaps we should ask, just how focused are we upon the reality that Christ is coming?