One World, One Dream

 

I’ve always been a huge fan of the Olympics – it’s pretty hard not to be, isn’t it? Last night, the opening ceremonies were broadcast from Beijing, China, a country I honestly do not know enough about. What a spectacular performance. If you didn’t see it, check out the Olympics on NBC online. If you’re using Vista, check out this great service.

Beyond the incredible technology, artistry, and creativity, what struck me most was the theme of this year’s Olympics: One Word, On Dream. While we were watching, I asked my wife, “Why can’t the world always be like this?” Athletes from Iran, Iraq, and North Korea all walked down same tunnel with athletes from America, France, and Great Britain, all while being welcomed warmly by the Chinese hosts. At the end of their march around the stadium, the athletes walked through different colors of paint, leaving a trail of color behind them as they walked across a giant canvas. So, by the end of the night, a giant painting emerged on the canvas, which was literally created by people from all around the world.

It was a vivid picture of harmony, a motif which weaved its way through the opening ceremonies. I watched the Chinese symbol for harmony appear over and over again in the artistic portion of the ceremonies, and I learned from the commentary that it is a pivotal concept for Chinese Confucianism. And then my mind began to wander back to my Christian worldview, in particular to our eschatological understanding of the world, a world that has been broken by sin in the past and present but hopes for redemption in the present and future. Redemption that we believe will come with the return of our Lord, Jesus Christ, redemption characterized by lions lying down with lambs (Is. 11:6), redemption which literally recreates creation in the form of the Kingdom of God.

As I watched people from across the globe, I believe I witnessed a manifestation of the Kingdom of God, a foretaste of what we hope for in the new creation. Put simply, I think the new creation will look a lot like the Olympics. In The Book of Revelation, John reports this vision:

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…

So why isn’t the world always this way? Why is it that we can come together to celebrate sports, but we cannot come together to feed our starving, care for our sick, and empower our poor? Is the Kingdom of God something we can only hope for in the future? If the answer is yes, which I think it is for a lot of Christians, then we are in danger of resigning ourselves to the way things are, to the status quo. On the other hand, what if the Kingdom of God has already broken into history in Jesus Christ, and what if his disciples are called to live in that kingdom, expanding its borders to include outsiders? What would the world look like then?

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4 thoughts on “One World, One Dream

  1. Ben,

    I see your concern and your joy in this blog. My take on why we can come together for the Olympics but not real issues is because of personal cost. The fallen nature is narcissistic. It was the original sin. Olympics does not cost us anything. It only adds to our glory. The more medals the better our egos are stroked. However, the Kingdom issues cannot be accomplished until people put themselves aside and put others first. This is a struggle in the Church and especially in America. We are so focused on prosperity that we forget what we should do with that prosperity. WE are so comfortable with our religious freedom that we forget that we are asked to be ready to lay down our lives for Christ because a servant is never greater than his/her Lord. The call is heavy, but so was the cross that Christ carried.

  2. Bringing the glory and success that is gained during these Olympic games is a good point. I had not thought of it in those terms.

    Also, the narcissistic nature of sin is worth considering.

    Do you think it is impossible for us to achieve any form of global peace without Christianity? That is, are non-Christian people doomed to live in conflict unless/until they come to know Christ?

  3. hmmmm that is a good question. I think so. First of all I do not believe anyone can feel complete and void of inward conflict without knowing God. I know at times when I drift from God a little I feel a lost. Again, Christ teaches it is not about self but others and God. Though a stated global peace may be stated someone will not be at peace. It would be fake sense of security. Plus, Revelation does state that those under the beast would kill Christians/Church and would celebrate until the Church is raised again and God’s judgment comes then the nations would worship God (Rev 11…very powerful statement of how God’s judgment paired with the Churches ‘witness’ brought many to God in the end). Global peace can only be temporary if even possible. Like before Narcissism would cause the rich to become richer and the poor to become poor and that is not peace at all. Peace is understanding our security in salvation, the gospel and God.

  4. I understand what you are saying, but I am left with one question: if peace isn’t fully achievable, then what is the point in trying? How do we hold this type of eschatological view coupled with a realistic admission of human fallenness and sin without becoming nihilistic (at least in this world)? In other words, if Christian hope lies completely in the future, i.e., the new creation, then what motivation is there to go about doing God’s work in the world in this old creation?

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