Thursday, May 15, 2014

More Than Medals

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 Timothy 4:6-8).
    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?

Source:
- 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



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