Last Sunday [back in 2010] our evangelist showed this video of a soccer crowd in Turkey. A massive sea of people all chanting and swaying in unison. The illustration was for the question, what kind of fan are you? But I couldn't stop thinking about how the writer of Hebrews describes the heroes of faith as a "cloud of witnesses" (Hebrews 12:1). I imagine this is what Elisha's servant saw when he was surrounded by "chariots of fire" (2 Kings 6:17). Now imagine playing a match with such a crowd? Encouraging if you're the home team, but indescribably intimidating for the visitor.
Tonight is the Opening Ceremonies for the 2012 Summer Olympics. I love the pageantry, the patriotism, the pride. These athletes aren't just representing themselves, but their entire nation.
We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. (2 Corinthians 5:20, emphasis added)
One of my favorite parts of the Olympics is the parade of nations. Seeing everyone united, dressed in such a way to identify their home, waving flags and waving at fans, always gives me chills. This moment reminds me just how big this world is, seeing the racial and cultural diversity and hearing the multiple languages spoken. At the same time, I see how small our world is, as each athlete has something in common with another, and they are all gathered in one place for the entire world to witness. At the opening ceremonies, the competitors enter with their countries, but at the closing ceremonies you see these same competitors mingling with their rivals, exchanging hugs and tears, pins and photos.
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)
The Church on Earth is not limited by language or political borders. It is not held back by the global economy, war, or famine. We have no rival that God cannot overcome. We are under one Lord, and united in one holy nation. This world is both big and intimidating while small and taken for granted. But look around. See the crowds surrounding you, cheering you to victory in Christ Jesus.