Amongst the pursuit of gold medals and world records, the Olympic games provides a unique opportunity, and sometimes burden, of representing your country before a watching world. Because of their unique positions, the athletes serve as ambassadors for their country.
For many of the athletes, they speak with pride of the privilege of wearing their country’s colors. Those who carry the flag in the opening ceremony speak of the honor they feel in representing their team and country.
A few athletes feel the burden of representing their country when it is being criticized. Russian athletes are asked to defend their country’s invasion of Georgia. Chinese athletes are asked to explain why the organizers used lip-syncing and digitally enhanced fireworks in the opening ceremony. They are forced to defend the ages of their women’s gymnastic team. The Swedish team has to answer questions about sportsmanship after wrestler Ara Abrahamian threw aside his bronze medal because he was upset over the officiating and disgusted he did not win the gold medal.
The USA men’s basketball team has been given the nickname, Redeem Team. Not only do they want to win the gold medal, but they desire to redeem the image of US basketball being the best in the world. That image became tarnished due to the lackluster efforts of previous teams.
As Christians, we know firsthand the privilege and burden of being ambassadors for the Kingdom of Heaven. A such, we are all members of the true redeem team. In 2 Corinthians 5:18-20, the apostle Paul explained,
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”
Rather than represent our country once every four years, believers represent Jesus Christ every day. We carry the flag of the Kingdom of Heaven. We are called to live in such a way that people want to know more about the Savior that we represent. We have been given a message of hope–it is possible to have your sins forgiven and be in right relationship to God.