Everybody appears to be making the contrast between our Olympic athletes and footballing heroes. It’s not hard to understand why this is the case. I heard many interviews with Olympic performers over the last two weeks and, as a general rule, they came across as humble and generous in their praise of coaches, opponents and supporters. The interview with Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Steve Redgrave was a prime example of this- and somewhat in contrast to recent conversations between John Terry and Anton Ferdinand.
Now as it happens I think the contrast is overblown and is partly an issue of background- I suspect you pick up things like politeness at somewhere like Leander Rowing Club. But even still it is a reminder to the Christian that the non-Christian world is capable in God’s grace of courtesy, kindness, teamwork and other such admirable qualities.
Yet for all its magnificence (and in my first post I noted how much I enjoyed them) the Olympics were a massive demonstration of human sin. Consider the Opening Ceremony for a moment. Here were the nations of the world together represented by those who have been blessed with great athletic ability. I know Abide with me was sung- but essentially God was obliterated from the picture. And yes I know a handful of athletes gave thanks to God- but they were in a significant minority.
This was Psalm 2 displayed- the nations of the earth seeking to break away from God’s chains by casually ignoring Him. This was Romans 1- the nations failing to glorify God or give thanks to Him. As one friend suggested to me it is the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11) all over again- the people of the world coming to make a name for themselves in defiance of God. The world comes together- to ignore God. Small wonder that in the Closing Ceremony and at the end of the BBC coverage we were invited to imagine by John Lennon’s song that above us there is only sky. Here’s one Christian eyewitness of the Closing Ceremony.
This is the essence of sin- a rejection of God’s authority and goodness. It is real even when it is clothed in great achievement and polite courtesy. God have mercy on us. We are a world which rejects Him despite His immense kindness in giving us so much to enjoy. He should obliterate us completely for our shocking ingratitude. The Olympics were a reminder that the nations of the world really need a Saviour.