This summer is the Games of the XXX Olympiad, and Jessica and I have already cleared our schedules so we can watch Michael Phelps, Brian Clay, and our other favorite athletes make Olympic history. They’ve worked, trained, and agonized for their moments of Olympic glory, and I can’t wait to cheer them on.
I just hope they don’t disqualify themselves between now and then.
We all know that the Olympic games are about far more than a race or an event—they’re about a lifetime of preparation for that event. Phelps and Clay won’t win repeat gold in England this summer unless they’re careful with how they live today.
The Apostle Paul understood this, and he used explicitly Olympic language in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 when he said, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
My heart resonates with Paul’s desire to avoid disqualification (I’m sure yours does too). And I keep thinking about the fact that there are multiple forms of disqualification. A false start from the starting blocks can disqualify a sprinter from their big event, but so can a positive drug test in the weeks leading up to the event. And so can a failure to diligently pay the price every single day in practice.
Sometimes we can court disqualification through inattention and inactivity just as much as through more overt areas of compromise. Let’s do a little pre-Olympic soul-searching to make sure we aren’t guilty of courting disqualification in any significant area of our lives.