With the Summer Olympics this year in Rio, I’ve really begun thinking about a key element in our Christian beliefs…Sacrifice.

Each athlete that participated in the games had to make sacrifices…they had to give up social aspects of their lives to prepare for competition.  They had to sacrifice time with their families, time with friends…even certain foods to achieve their goals.

There were a number of training sessions that took hours of dedication and hours of commitment on the part of the athletes to finely tune their bodies, and get them fully ready to compete in their respective events.

The Christian life is a lot like the lives of those athletes.  As Christians we are to live in a way that is set apart from the rest of the world.  We train differently; we are asked to give up certain earthly pleasures to fully receive the gifts that God has for us.  We have to finely tune our bodies to become fully prepared for life’s events…some of which we cannot anticipate; but we can still use our training to overcome.

This training was also essential in the life of Christ.

Jesus came to this world to show us the example.  He came to give us a way, so that we could see what it took to become fully prepared for the attacks that we might face.  Jesus came to this earth with a mission…to seek and save that which was lost.

The Lost?  Us…we are the ones that Christ came to save.

But you also have to think about all of this in terms of what took place.  Jesus lived a life of thirty something.  He lived a life that was fully worthy of the calling on his life, and He faced daily struggles similar to the ones we face each and every day.  Jesus was just like us.

He was stalked as a child by Herod.  He served as a threat, so Herod chose to have all children under the age of two murdered…God spared Him…His time had not come.

As He grew in age, He also grew in wisdom.  He learned the ropes, and spoke the truth.  He had a successful ministry during His early thirties…Jesus went through the training.  Training that required the ultimate sacrifice…the giving up of His most prized earthly possession…His own life.

Jesus knew that to overcome his opponent, He had to give up His very life to save those who would follow.

Jesus had to make a sacrifice to win the battle…to use Olympic terms: Jesus had to die to win Gold; and just as the Gold medal remains on display for the world to see and remember…the Cross stands as a reminder of this sacrifice that was so freely made.

Our place now is in its shadow…our place is at the foot of the emblem that stands for our true freedom…our place is within reach, but it’s up to us to step into the shadows.  It is up to us to embrace the Old Rugged Cross!


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