I must admit that like most of America I watched every moment of the Women’s team and individual gymnastics. What these women are able to do is simply amazing to say the very least. I know Aly Raisman did at least 14 back flips before landing back on the balance beam. I can’t seem to keep my Durango in between the white and blue line, but these 17 year old girls can land one toe on a dime. It was quite inspirational to watch our American ladies represent our fine country, however no one won the hearts of America Like Gabby Douglas who took home the gold in team gymnastics and the coveted gold in the all around. The next day after her monumental success there was one topic above all that seemed to be the buzz: her faith. Move over Tim Tebow, Gabby Douglas is in the house!
If Joel Osteen is supposed to be “America’s new pastor,” then Gabby certainly didn’t disappoint him with her comment. It is all well and good that an athlete praise God for the talents that He has given them but our society has become extremely wrapped up in prosperity gospel that it has thrown the confessional baby out with the baptismal water. Here is what Gabby said, “And I give all the glory to God. It’s kind of a win-win situation. The glory goes up to Him and the blessings fall down on me.” Prosperity gospel to the max. Now this is a 17 year old girl who I am sure has a strong faith and I am not picking on her, I only want to point out how our culture is seeing God and that it does affect our youth regardless if they have a gold medal around their necks. But what about us? What about we, the poor miserable few that don’t have the talent to obtain the Olympic glory that Gabby recently wrought? Do we not have the favor the same favor of God? Have we not received His blessings? Or is it that we, as a society, don’t have a proper understanding of what it means to be blessed by God?
Poor theology seems to be an epidemic now-a-days and it has certainly overthrown the sporting world (though I would love to see a dish-washer run out from the back of a Denny’s praising God for a new silverware record). The youth of America are not getting enough proclamation of the crucified Jesus who was nailed to the tree and murdered so that we could have life! That is what our youth need – not a subpar and out of context tattoo of Philippians 4:13. They need life preached into them. Pastor’s PREACH THE WORD! Parents TEACH YOUR CHILDREN! Place the Small Catechism in their hands when they are young. Teach them to proclaim the pure doctrine of our Lord. Being a confessional Lutheran does not mean to be a stubborn German. It means to proclaim that which is true and that which saves.
Christ came for the weak and the helpless. Christ came for the alleyway bums and the track marked masses. Christ came to strengthen the powerless of spirit. Christ came for the school teacher and the Olympic Champion. He came not to give us earthly victory but for heavenly victory for eternity. Christ also didn’t merely make these promises then wink and leave, no He gave us these promises from that which flowed from His side on the cross: blood and water! Christ gives us a foretaste of the feast as He washes us clean and clear in the waters of baptism and edifies us with His very own body and blood. You can keep an Olympic podium, I’ll take my Lord’s Altar.
Paul writes to Timothy, “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” This is the strength that never weakens, the long awaited salvation that has come to the baptized members of the body of Christ. Let us boast in our weakness, for we too were once blasphemers, persecutors and insolent opponents yet Christ came in even for us. Mercy has been given in abundance and we slaves of sin have been set free to be the people of God Himself. He has made us His own through the suffering, death, and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ and because of this we will never die. He has crowned us as His own regardless of our damnable effort. He points to us still and says, “Satan, these are my washed and fed children they have been set free from you and your ways.”
Olympic medals are nice, but they are perishable. Let us proclaim that which is imperishable: the Church which is the bride of Christ which has the promise of everlasting life. Teach our children to, like St. Paul, “know nothing but Christ and Him crucified for the forgiveness of sins.” This is the Gospel of our Lord, all else will certainly fail.