The Tokyo Olympics reveals the God of sport. The ancient Games gave praise to the Greek gods, such as the goddess of victory, Nike. In the modern Olympics, the praise is often given to the athletes for their determination and skill.
However, the Olympics gives us an opportunity to point to another far greater achievement: Jesus’ victory over death. The Apostle Paul, writer of many New Testament letters, makes this link from what we see in sport to the unseen spiritual realities of the gospel of Jesus. The point is that God is interested in the Olympics and uses the Games to point to the good news about Jesus.
God is interested in every area of our life, including the Olympics. Dutch pastor and politician, Abraham Kuyper’s famous quote, summarizes the Gospel’s reach:
“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign overall, does not cry, Mine!”
As a result, God is interested in sport and the Olympics because, wherever people are, God is interested! And the Olympics provides so many opportunities to reveal His glory.
This includes athletes in the Games Village meeting for regular Bible study and prayer, to regular worship services in the Village’s Religious Services Centre, to community outreach by churches on the streets of Tokyo, to spectators exploring the gospel themes of sin, sacrifice, grace, and victory, as reflected in sport. What we will see in Tokyo is a God-given opportunity, as the Westminster Catechism says “to worship God and enjoy Him forever”, using sport as a vehicle.
The Games allow us to do what the Bible does often: to transpose the temporary struggles and training we see in sport to a spiritual level. For example, when we watch Olympic boxing, we are to see beyond the physical to a different kind of fight: the spiritual. When we witness a gold medal victory we are to look beyond the physical to a deeper eternal victory.
God of the Bible
The primary way God reveals Himself is through the Bible. The Bible is “God breathed” and we want to be faithful to the Biblical text. It is this text that has the power to work hand-in-glove with the Spirit to change lives.
As a result, I have partnered with two other Pastors to produce a devotional that aims to unpack the message of Jesus using sport as the vehicle: The Spirit of Victory. The book provides a daily devotional for each day of the Olympic Games taking readers deep into Scripture.
Our desire, as authors, is to point to this Gospel of grace from these Bible passages. Our aim is to allow God’s Word to speak by unpacking the verses and challenging you in its application for your life.
Discovering the true God of the Olympics
This devotional has a focus of bringing you, the reader, into God’s Word using sport and the Olympics as the vehicle to point you to Jesus. Parts of The Spirit of Victory will feature each day of the Olympics in Christian Today Australia and the book, published by Star Label Publishing, will be available through all good online bookstores soon.
Jeremy Dover is a former sports scientist and Pastor
Jeremy Dover's previous articles may be viewed at https://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jeremy-dover1.html