Devotion for the Week...
Olympic Lessons, Part 1 and Part 2 were posted in February 2014, and now I'm sharing some new thoughts prompted by watching the Olympics. I wonder if this will be on ongoing series, with parts added every two years :)
As I mentioned last week, I watched a lot of the Rio Olympics. Did you? We watched archery, track & field, rhythmic and artistic gymnastics, diving and volleyball, with snippets of other sports thrown in whenever the channel we were watching went to commercial break. The CBC network really knows how to cover the Olympics. At any given time, during competition hours, there were up to 4 television channels broadcasting from Rio, along with numerous events live streaming on their website. It was fantastic! And time consuming :)
Paul started watching the volleyball early on and I joined in partway through the tournament. I couldn't believe the power behind some of the hits! At one point, the announcer explained that players standing at the net lace their fingers behind their heads while their teammate serves because if the serve is low and hits the back of their head, it has so much force it could cause a concussion!
And serves were low quite often...not into player's heads, but into the net. Sometimes two or three serves in a row would hit the net. And each one of those serves meant a point given to the opposing team. Ouch.
What impressed me was that no matter who was playing, men or women, or which country they were from, no one ever got upset about those serves. Well, maybe the coach threw up his hands, but that was about the extent of it. The players just took it in stride. They nodded at the player who just messed up the serve, those close enough clapped him or her on the shoulder, they touched hands all around to show their team spirit, and they got ready for the next play. Not once did one player get upset at another for giving away a point. Not once was there a show of anger. Not once did one player shun another.
Why? Because they all know it's entirely possible their next serve will end up in the net.
They've all done it before. They all know they'll do it again.
This is where we Christians sometimes get it oh, so wrong. We see someone sin and we jump in to judge them. We question their salvation. We shame them.
We forget that we have sinned before and we forget that we will sin again.
In 1 Corinthians 10:12, Paul wrote, "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!" In other words, if you think you're doing better than someone else...if you think you're holding steady and secure...then you better watch out because you could be losing your balance already!
It is exactly that feeling of security which leads to the falling, because it is when we feel there is no danger of us giving in to sin that we forget to be vigilant. That is when we slip, because we aren't paying attention. That's also when we're most likely to be harsh when someone else sins.
At some point or another, we have all been the one to serve into the net and give up a point to the opposing team. We need to remember that at all times. Then, when others sin, we won't be so quick to jump on them in judgement. We will remember that they are just like us. That we are just as likely to get it wrong as they are.
Then we can offer them a pat on the shoulder...a word of encouragement...a virtual (or even a real) touch of the hand to indicate our team spirit. Not to excuse their sin, or pretend it doesn't exist or that it doesn't matter. Sin always matters and always needs to be dealt with. But the person who sinned doesn't need our judgement.
They need our love and encouragement to shake it off and focus so they're ready for the next play.