The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics are coming to a conclusion this weekend. I can’t remember the last time I watched so many sporting events on television! Most of them were events I’d normally never watch, but I was glued to the TV for them – because Canadians were participating. And we have seen our athletes on the podium and heard our national anthem played and sung. These are our games, we declared, and we will own the podium!
By the time all is said and done, it will be debatable as to whether we will have owned the podium. After all, our American cousins – and there are ten times as many of them as there are Canadians! – have won more medals than we have. But in many respects, we have been competing not against other countries, but against ourselves. And to that extent, one might say we have owned the podium.
These games have not been without their glitches. There was a Zamboni that peed on the speed-skating ice early on, causing a delay; the fence around the Olympic flame has caused outrage for tourists and photographers; and the weather – well, the weather hasn’t been the most wintery. The weather was beyond anyone’s control; the fence was deemed necessary for public order; and accidents do happen. All in all, however, I think Canada has put its best foot forward as it has welcomed the world into one of its most beautiful provinces.
The Olympics have been well hosted. But the event hasn’t been perfect.
Perfectionism – an overriding philosophy that says everything must be ‘just so’, is an unfortunate plight espoused by many people, including followers of Jesus. I was a perfectionist as a young person; failing two courses in my first year of university largely cured me of perfectionism! But life – and that includes the Christian life – is not about being perfect.
Imprisoned for the faith he professed, the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Philippi to encourage them toward a discipleship goal – “to know Christ and the power of his resurrection” (Philippians 3.10a, NIV). And then he offers this revelation: “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3.12, NIV).
Even the great apostle to the Gentiles was not perfect! He was still in the process of being made perfect by the grace of God in Jesus. That’s why our spiritual formation is a process. We are not made into fully-matured Christ-followers when we first say, “Jesus is Lord of my life.” Profession of faith and church membership are not the end of the journey; they comprise another significant step on the journey.
If you don’t feel like you’ve reached perfection in your walk with God, take heart: nobody else walking this earth has, either. True, we’re all on the journey, and some folks are further along on the journey than others – that’s okay. We all go at the pace God sets for us. The key is that we be walking the path in the right direction – that we see ourselves as more mature in Christ today than we were a month or a year ago.
We will be perfect when we stand before the throne of God. But until then, we seek to honour God by becoming more and more like Jesus every day.
The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games will not have come off with perfection, but it will have been a life-changing experience for many people. Likewise, our life on this earth will not have come off with perfection, but our lives will have changed as we pressed on toward the goal of becoming more and more like the One who is “the author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12.2, NIV). Keep on keeping on!