As I’m sure most of you are aware, we are in the middle of the 2020 Summer Olympics, of course being played in 2021 because of Covid. Though most of the summer events are in sports that I don’t really find too interesting, I still find myself watching a little of the Games most evenings. One of the major Olympic stories to date is regarding Simone Biles, the greatest gymnast of all time, who has officially withdrawn from the All-Around Final event to “focus on her mental health.” This has obviously caused many to scratch their heads as to her reasoning and she has certainly become the butt of many jokes on social media. But, as I heard someone point out yesterday, imagine the pressure of competing in a 1 minute event that you have literally trained your life for? Talk about pressure!
And while we often marvel at the effort and skills it takes for someone to compete at such a high level, the idea of training your entire life for such a short event does seem somewhat bewildering. And though I’m sure these athletes feel immense amounts of pride if they are lucky enough to metal, I’m sure there is often somewhat of a letdown as many reach that pinnacle and then wonder “was it really all worth it?”
In our reading today in 1 Thessalonians, we come across an interesting phrase that Paul makes at the end of chapter 2. In verses 19-20 we read, ” For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy.” In contrast to the athletes that literally train their entire lives to win a metal, Paul talks about what he considers his hope, joy and crown-people. Brothers and sisters in Christ who were in the Thessalonian church and being faithful in their walk with the Lord. People he had an impact on for the cause of Christ-those people were his crowns. I recently heard a message in which the pastor referred to the purpose of a New Testament Church as being “disciples making other disciples.” Too often we think of church being a place to hear a few nice songs and a good message but then walk out the doors until the following week. No, God’s desire for us to be invested in the lives of others. To go through the highs and lows of life with other people and do what we can to be a godly influence in the lives of others. Those are the real crowns that we should strive for.