Faster, stronger, higher

Published on: 26 Aug 2016

Well I couldn’t resist. The Olympics only come round every 4 years after all, and although my body was advising me otherwise, and I was still recovering from a rather exhausting stint leading a teenage youth camp, I stayed up deep into the small hours of the night to watch Andy Murray pummel his way to his second Olympic gold and Usain Bolt demolish the field to retain his 100m crown.
Two athletes at the peak of their powers straining every nerve and sinew to prove themselves against the world’s best. Meanwhile cyclists, gymnasts, riders, and sailors achieved life time ambitions in claiming gold medals at the world’s greatest sporting jamboree. Years of training and self-sacrifice in pursuit of excellence, and now for many it starts all over again – the next championship, the next trophy or medal.
For some an incredible sense of achievement in response to success, for others a renewed determination to atone for perceived failures.
All of them mindful of the Olympic motto – ‘citius, altius, fortius’ (faster, higher, stronger). I fear my chances of achieving Olympic gold are fading fast, but watching these great sportsmen and women has got me reflecting on this whole question of ambition and desire.
It’s great to be ambitious and dream big dreams, but what does it mean for me to be the best that I can be? Am I out to stoke my own ego – to have everyone think well of me and sing my praises or do I live for a higher cause. Who or what am I living for?
At the afore mentioned youth camp I was reminded of some words from the Westminster catechism; a document drawn up in the mid 17th Century by English and Scottish theologians in an attempt to bring clarity to the teaching of the church. In it there’s a line which attempts to express humanity’s chief purpose – ‘To glorify God and enjoy him forever.’
For me that’s what being the best is ultimately about. God has given all of us talents and skills, and we should use them to the full. The athlete straining every sinew, the teacher giving their best to their pupils, the parent giving sacrificially to their truculent teenager, the student making the most of their academic and practical abilities, the list goes on.
The apostle Paul writes ‘whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.’ I’m never going to be Andy Murray or Usain Bolt, but I can be me – living life with a purpose and giving my often inadequate best in the service of God and others. No gold medals on earth, but the promise of rewards in heaven.

Rev Paul Peterson
Associate Minister – Christ Church Downend

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