Athletes represent something beyond themselves

Recently I found myself sitting in my living room watching the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics.

It’s a rather impressive production. No, not the technology, not the performing and not even the architecture. What’s impressive to me is the parade of athletes.

Countries from across the globe are represented by athletes marching together with smiles stretching ear to ear and flags waving with inspiring patriotism. As these athletes walk in I’m listening to the commentary: remarks about the countries, athletes, Olympic histories and an inevitable human interest tidbit. There are a couple of things that have struck a chord with my spirit as I watch and listen.

I see a pride in these athletes, certainly at the top of their respective sports. Their pride, however, has less to do with their athletic talents and more with representing their country. They are a part of something special, and each seems to be embracing this amazing opportunity.

I hear, understandably so, that the vast majority of these athletes won’t win a medal. That’s really no surprise; there are only so many medals to be won. What did surprise me was that some of these athletes, especially from countries being represented by a faithful few, have no chance at earning a medal. They won’t be shown on TV, they won’t hear their national anthem played and they won’t experience victory.

But that’s not why they are there; they are representing their country and proud to be doing so. To me, these athletes are heroes.

I think Christians can learn a few things here.

Without a doubt, we are a part of something special. What would it look like if we marched around our communities with the same type of pride the Olympic athletes marched into the stadium feeling? What if that pride was less about what we have to offer on our own and more about what it means to represent something greater than ourselves?

We as Christ-followers represent the Creator God, the sacrifice and grace of Christ, and the call of the church. Too often we walk around with our faith being more a weight around our necks than an opportunity to be a part of something amazing.

Very few of us will ever be rewarded on earth for our faith. There are only so many Mother Teresas and Billy Grahams. No, most of us will simply walk our journey unnoticed by the world — no medals, no celebrations, no spotlights. But just like those athletes, that’s not why we are living out our faith (or at least it shouldn’t be).

Sometimes we get caught up in the moment and pulled into a worldly perspective, but in our hearts we have to know that this life, each moment, is an opportunity to represent Christ. Shouldn’t that be enough?

We as Christ-followers should be proud we are representing something amazing, something so much greater than ourselves. We shouldn’t be living our faith for accolades in the world but know that our reward awaits us in glory — and that, my friends, would make us heroes of Olympic proportion.

Ethan Maple is lead pastor of the Movie Theater Church that meets in Mt. Comfort. This weekly column is written by local clergy members. Send comments to