By David A. Sargent
The 2014 Winter Olympics recently ended with the
host country, Russia, winning the medal count. Russia won 13
golds and 33 total medals, becoming the first Winter Olympic host
nation to lead gold- and total-medal counts since Norway in
1952. The country has celebrated the victories of their
medalists and recently congratulated them with more than just the
honor of earning the medals.
On Thursday, February 27, Russian Prime Minister
Dmitry Medvedev handed out keys to a fleet of white Mercedes-Benz
cars to 44 of the Russian medalists next to Red Square in
Moscow. Three different classes of cars were offered for the
three medal colors. Each of the cars was adorned with the
Russian Olympic Team logo.
What about the medal-winning athletes like figure
skating champions Yuliya Lipnitskaya (age 15) and Adelina Sotnikova
(age 17), who are under the minimum driving age of 18 (in
Russia)? According to the Associated Press, those without
licenses also received a paid-for driver.
These Olympic athletes received more than nice
new cars. The cars came on top of cash prizes. Gold medalists
received $120,000, silver medalists $76,000 and bronze medalists
$52,000, according to R-Sport. *
Yet all of the medals and the additional prizes
cannot compare with the “reward” that is promised for faithful
followers of Christ…
Against the backdrop of Olympic-like games in
Greece, the Apostle Paul wrote to Christians in Corinth: “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” (1 Corinthians 9:25). James also wrote
about the crown that awaits the faithful child of God: “Blessed is
the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the
test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to
those who love him” (James 1:12). The “crown” is the reward of
eternal life for those who follow Jesus!
The differences between the “crown of life” and
Olympic medals (and all of the accolades and prizes that accompany
the medals) are many. The main difference is: we cannot EARN
the crown of life. The crown of life is received, not
achieved. In fact, the basis of receiving the crown of life is
not our flawless performance. That’s wonderful news because
“ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans
3:23). Each of us has fallen many more times than any figure
skater – Olympic or otherwise! Just because our “performance”
may be better than others doesn’t earn the crown for us either.
The basis of receiving the crown of life is not
our performance but what Someone else did for us. Despite our
“falls” (our sins), God loves us so much that He gave His Son Jesus
to die on the cross for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Through His
death on the cross on our behalf, Jesus paid the price for our
redemption (Ephesians 1:7). Then three days later, He rose
from the grave achieving victory over sin, Satan, and death!
To share in the victory of Christ and receive the
crown of life, we must place our faith and trust in Jesus (Acts
16:30-31), turn from our sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess
Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and be baptized (immersed) into
Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38). Then, as
we continue to “fix our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2) and follow Him
faithfully (not flawlessly), He will continue to cleanse us from all
sin (1 John 1:7) and, one day, give to us the crown of life (READ 2
The crown of life is worth far more than any
“medals” this world has to offer. Jesus died so that you might
receive this crown.
Our response should be to seek to please the One
who DIED for us so that we might LIVE eternally!
Won’t YOU accept His offer on His terms?
- David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood
in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional
entitled Living Water." To learn more about this excellent
resource contact David via their website: http://www.creekwoodcc.org
* Information gleaned from “Russian Olympic Medalists Receive Luxury
Cars” by Nick Zaccardi of NBCsports.com