What the Church Can Learn from the Winter Olympics

by Melissa Nordell

In watching the 2022 Winter Olympics, we can glean many attributes for the Church including the practice and study needed, the pursuit of strength, maintaining joy and resilience, and getting back up after falling. All sports require the right timing. All athletes must fight fear and anxiety. All must play by the rules. And they all must focus on the primary goal.

There are a lot more analogies we can make but here are the main aspects. Every sport requires some sort of balance. Balance in the Church is balance on the Word of God and His wisdom. Kingdom balance is balance on what the Bible says is the greatest thing: love. “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor 13:13 NKJV)

As I have been watching, the Lord talked to me about the unity in not only the team sports but of the individual sports as well. Never have I seen participants hug each other so much in these 2022 Winter Olympics; not only those within a country, but there is a good sportsmanlike conduct with hugs to other country’s participants as well. This is a lesson to the Church as a whole – we need to stop being nationalistic or denominational-istic and realize that the Church is not one country, is not one denomination, and we are all in for a common cause.

Any team member that brings disunity or strife can be distracted and ousted by such trivial matters. In these last days, the Bride of Christ needs to learn the lesson of unity. It was unity that brought the power of Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost as Acts 2:1 says: “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place” (KJV).

It is disunity that has always brought the downfall of any revival. It is trivial matters that can distract us and waste our time while people are dying and going to hell. Mature athletes do not get off course, do not fight with others and are not disturbed by what others do or think. They focus.

Also, as I was watching, the Lord reminded me of a life-changing lesson I learned while pursuing the sport of snow skiing in my younger years…

Sports require teamwork. Even as individuals, the team consists of the athlete with coaches as well. As Lance Wallnau says, “As one!” No one does it alone. All athletes must have the help of others to help them get there and to give into the cause. All must be teachable and responsive to their coach and leaders. All need encouragement. Many believers need to return to church, to be the Body of Christ to receive coaching, teaching and encouragement.

I had the privilege of learning to snow ski at 5 years old since my family went to the Sierra Nevada Mountains often. But as I grew, I had trouble with one leg, not diagnosed until much later in life. Because I was quite competitive, I strived to do anything to continue my desire to ski. So with the help of an amputee friend who taught handicapped skiing, I learned to teach the sport to “physically challenged” individuals and skied on one ski as they did.

I learned many things during that time, teaching amputees and blind individuals with a compassionate passion. I also learned to race and had the privilege of competing in handicap races in the United States while I was teaching handicap skiing.

But here is the lesson: In my 20’s while on the team of instructors working at China Peak in California, the head of the PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) was also the head of this ski school. Before “the hill” (as we called the skiing area of the resort) was opened to the public, all of us instructors were to meet for a pre-season meeting. There was enough snow for us to meet and ski but there were patches of rocks and dirt, unsafe for the public. As we lined up together at the top of the mountain, the ski school director asked me to ski on ahead of everyone while they watched me. He said, “Melissa, ski your best wedge and stop at that tree; then we will follow and meet you.”

Yes, you can do a half wedge on one ski, and because I was quite good skiing on one ski, had already started racing and was reaching “A” class as a racer, I thought I was “all that.” I assumed he was making me an example of wonderful technique that the others could follow on two skis. Wow was I wrong.

I skied on down in my usual way, gloating over the attention. But when they all skied down and we all got together, the Director said something like: “Now if Melissa would only correct this one thing, it would not only make her a better skier with excellent form, but it will make a huge difference in her races.”

Swallowing my pride, I knew he was right. He showed me that I needed to “tweak” how my one ski was tilted laterally by just a centimeter. I mean just by a hair! Somehow, I had missed a very basic bit of form that was tripping me up, holding me back and making my form lack.

So, the Lord was showing me that (along with a cleansing of that pride!) it was now a lesson that we need to change elementary or basic things that we have learned in error that hold us back or trip us up in the Church. I know this is true in a lot of things in Christendom as we need to “tweak” things the right way that we may have learned wrong in the beginning. We all could relearn the basic love and compassion of Jesus. We need to relearn some basics of intercession that we may have learned wrong. We need to revisit the basics of why we come to church in the first place – to worship and honor the Lord. We need to reevaluate our songs of worship and our own general patterns of worshipping. We need to reexamine our motives and correct them as well

For the Bride of Christ to be ready for the Groom, the Lord Jesus Christ, as individuals we need to look at the following:

  1. We must get back to the basics of reaching lost souls as the principal thing
  2. We need to remember that “the greatest of these is love” in all things
  3. We need to each examine our own individual motives for doing ministry (whether in full-time ministry or not)
  4. We need to hold unity in the Body of Christ as high priority and not argue about trivial matters
  5. We need to get back to what Jesus said the Church should be: a House of Prayer and a place to worship the One True God
  6. For those who have stayed away from church during this pandemic time or due to hurt in the church, they need to get back to the assembly of worship, learning and growing, an act of unity and service

The best thing to an athlete in the Olympics is that they look forward to the end, the win, the triumph. Of course, being a Christ-follower is not competitive, but we too look forward to that day that we will reach our reward and win the race. Philippians 3:13-14 says, “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

We as Christians only have one chance at life on earth and look forward to the day when we receive our crowns and medals, no matter our age, no matter our ethnicity, male and female to the glory of God. However, in order to do that we need to look at some basic things we do in the Church and make sure we correct, or “tweak” what needs to be changed – even if by a hair!

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