The Gospel of Matthew and the Rio Olympics


Congratulations to Team GB who have achieved the best performance in 100 years. They have done this by adhering to Biblical principles.

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus tells the story of The Parable of the Talents. It’s about three men, two of whom use the talents they’ve been given and one of whom buries his. When the reckoning comes, the man who has failed to use his talent is punished, and his talent is given to one of the others.

Jesus says: “For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”

This is exactly the strategy of UK Sport, which has funded sports which win medals, and has defunded those which don’t, leading to tremendous success in Rio.

You might think that Christians would follow the same principle, but unfortunately the institutional church up until now has set up a system which rewards mediocrity, a formula described as “perverse”.

Some have argued that for Christians, there are better ways to spend money than on Olympic Gold.

That’s true, but there’s a lot for us to learn from their success in particular the words of Liz Nicholl, the Chief Executive of UK Sport: ‘[We have] a “no compromise” philosophy. We will not do any of the “nice to dos”. We won’t tolerate distraction from our core mission’.

Shouldn’t the Church have the same philosophy?

Team GB have spent the money on making marginal gains, improving equipment, training and diet bit by bit, to produce huge improvements overall. They then do it all over again, in order to stay ahead.

My guess is that most churches could make marginal gains in their buildings, music and organisation in order to improve. Unfortunately too many churches choose not to do this because they prefer not to change, which is the equivalent of doing nothing, and somehow hoping to win a gold medal.

St Paul wrote: Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last for ever.

Making disciples is far more important than winning races yet it would appear that UK Sport is more biblically astute about being distracted from its core mission than the Mainstream Church.

What do you think? And don’t forget that the man who buried his talent no doubt thought that it was important to be faithful rather than to be successful……..

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