Most adults do not hang posters in their bedrooms like college students do in their dorm rooms. If I did, I would hang a poster of one of my heroes, Eric Liddell. He won a gold medal in the 400-meter race in the 1924 Paris Olympics (see the movie “Chariots of Fire”). For the next twenty years, the Flying Scotsman and Olympic champion continued the family heritage of serving as a missionary in China. He was one of thousands thrown into a Japanese prison camp in occupied China during World War 2, where he later died. For a great summer (and Olympic Games) read, consider Eric Liddell – Pure Gold, by author Dave McCasland.
There are four things that stand out to me about Eric: First, he was an avid student of God’s Word. Eric read, studied, meditated, and memorized Scripture. He inspired me to have a really good handle on the greatest book of all time.
Second, he was a “muscular Christian”. He was a devoted representative of Christ, as well as an outstanding athlete. Friends who witnessed to me about Jesus when I was a non-believing college student used Liddell as an example of someone to emulate. He was a total athlete, with a triad approach of spiritual, mental, and physical development. Eric would run and compete, and then speak to the crowd after the competition about the Christian worldview and the urgency to consider the claims of Christ. He used the platform of athletics to talk with folks about God.
Third, he modeled sportsmanship. He introduced himself to competitors and wished them luck. During one race he was knocked down and off the track, yet he ended up winning the race. He didn’t complain about unfairness or try to get revenge, but he competed as a sportsman. “Sport is wonderful,” Liddell said once. “The most wonderful part of it is not the almost superhuman achievements but the spirit in which it is done. Take away that spirit and it is dead.”
Last, while a gifted athlete, Eric Liddell depended on the Holy Spirit. He said, “The Holy Spirit is to the Christian life what sportsmanship is to sport and much more. Without Him in our lives, even at the best we are…dead perfection and no more.”
Read Romans 7:4-6. The apostle Paul, “We have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code” (7:6). When the Spirit rules our lives, we can do what is right toward God and others, even if it means losing an earthly prize.
What moral or ethical shortcut are you tempted to take this week? How is God using an obstacle in your life to deepen your trust in Him, and sharpen your witness for Him? Are you aware that a large part of the Spirit’s work is to help you face difficult circumstances in order to grow?
Paul continues in Romans 8 that the Spirit is guaranteed as an indwelling presence to help us live like Christ. The Spirit also brings life and peace, sustains the believer in suffering, and helps us in prayer. You may want to emulate Tim Tebow here by dropping to one knee, raise your hand(s) to heaven, and thank God for the provision of the Holy Spirit.
For more on Eric Liddell, go to www.athletesinaction.org, click on the Olympic Project Blog, and read about his life and legacy. Please consider joining Barbara and me as an Olympic Prayer Partner with AIA during the London Olympics. Ask a few of your friends to join you as well.
Think Theologically. The Holy Spirit helps us choose to do what is right. Be a muscular Christian.
Love is a verb,