The Peacemaking Olympics?
The Olympics! In recent weeks the world’s focus has turned to Rio. We have become entranced by the most spectacular event played out on the international stage. There has been everything from joy to disappointment to scandal to triumph over adversity.
But did you know that the first Olympiad was held in Olympia in 776BC and had only one event, a 200 metre sprint? It was won by a cook! The ancient competition ended in 393 AD but was revived in 1896. The revival of the Olympics in 1896 is attributed to a French man named Baron Pierre de Coubertine who believed that through sport, even enemies could be united! The first of the modern Olympics was held in Athens, attended by 14 countries and had 43 events. Now the Olympics has competitors from over 200 countries participating in over 300 events!
Isn’t it amazing to think that a desire for harmony and peace was at the heart of the modern Olympics? Participating in sport is known to increase emotional, mental and physical wellbeing. It can also encourage mutual respect and co-operation between competitors. But it has its natural limitations. Real peace and harmony within oneself and with others can only come through and from Jesus Christ.
“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” (1 Tim 4:8)
Training for godliness calls us to live lives that honour God, and to follow Christ’s example to serve and love others. This can be very hard when people do wrongful or harmful things towards us or others. On the sporting field, there are umpires and referees to call out wrongdoing and to mediate disputes. Not so in our everyday life! We have to respond personally to wrongdoing (sin) in ourselves and others, and be prepared to deal with conflict too.
Often, our first thought is to ‘help’ someone see where they have committed a sin and needs to change! But remember that not all wrongdoing needs to be pointed out. Overlooking offences is appropriate in some circumstances and commended in the Bible (Prov 19:11). However, if someone’s sin is damaging relationships, hurting them or others, or if they profess to be a Christian and their actions are dishonouring to God, then it is both loving and necessary to speak the truth in love to them (Gal 6:1-2, James 5:19-20).
But we shouldn’t start there! First, we need to look at ourselves; at our own motivations, thoughts and actions.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? … first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matt 7:3-5)
We must go to others winsomely, lovingly and only after we have taken the log out of our own eye! Examining ourselves before God changes our heart and prepares us to go to others in humility. If our attitude is not loving, then we should not be speaking to them. But if we are seeking to honour God and serve and love the other person, we should not hold back. Lovingly and gently speaking to someone about their sin is not easy. But remember, you might be saving them from not only a sinful and hurtful life here on earth, but eternity without God!
It’s worth thinking about.
To find out more about what the Bible has to say about restoring another person after they have sinned, read Chapter 7 of The Peacemaker (Ken Sande). (Over this year, through each edition of Peace It Together, we will be sharing the basic peacemaking principles as covered in each chapter of the The Peacemaker.