Praising The Lord At The Olympics

On August 18, 2016 by Bobby Blakey

I enjoy watching the Olympics.

But this year, I saw something I did not expect: encouragement to praise Jesus!

My family and I were gathered around the television to cheer on America.

In fact, my 4-year-old son Jack just figured out U.S.A and America are the same country!

We were watching men’s synchronized platform diving, when the final results were announced.  China began cheering because they had won the gold. The two divers from Great Britain fell back into the pool celebrating the bronze. And the American team who had won the silver were… wait a minute… were they praying?

interviewAs the Americans were interviewed it sounded like diver David Boudia said something about his “identity in Christ.”

My kids were still cheering so I leaned in to listen closer as the other American diver, Steele Johnson, mentioned his “identity in Christ” too!

My 10-year-old son Tyler and I slowly turned our heads towards each other until our eyes were locked.

He lifted an eyebrow as if to say “Hmm…”

“Did those guys just say what I think they said?”

Here is the direct quote from USA diver David Boudia when he was asked about the pressure on him to follow up his gold medal from the 2012 London Olympics:

“Yeah, I just think the past week, there’s just been an enormous amount of pressure, and I’ve felt it. You know, it’s just an identity crisis. When my mind is on this, thinking I’m defined by this, then my mind goes crazy, but we both know our identity is in Christ.

USA diver Steele Johnson added:

“I think the way David just described it was flawless. The fact that I was going into this event knowing that my identity is rooted in Christ and not what the result of this competition is just gave me peace.”

Turns out this isn’t the first time David Boudia has used his diving as a platform to praise Jesus.

A quick click to his website and you can read his testimony of salvation that includes a gospel presentation!

A deeper dive into the internet reveals David Boudia attends Faith Church in Lafayette, Indiana. A church I have both been to and benefited from. Here is a testimony given at the church from David’s diving coach, Adam Soldati, who was able to lead David to Christ!

Greater Than GoldTo prepare for the 2016 Rio Olympics, David not only underwent intense physical training, he also wrote a book to tell his spiritual story of salvation to the world. He trained not only to compete as a representative of his country, but as an ambassador of Jesus Christ to the world.  David’s book is “Greater Than Gold.”  You could call it an autobiography but it emphasized his testimony of faith in Jesus Christ. I was so inspired by David’s bold declaration of praise on the Olympics national TV broadcast, that I drove to Barnes & Noble and bought the book the next day. Over the last week I read it while watching the Olympics. I highly recommend this book to you and you can buy it now on Amazon or at our church book nook this Sunday!

David tells the story of his life in an intensely open and honest way. He describes the kinds of personal struggles that are spiritual and all of us can relate to. As he tells about his conversion and the new life he has in Jesus Christ he uses Scripture to make his point and you can clearly see his change of heart. David continues to be honest as a Christian and talks about the challenges of dating his wife and winning the gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics. This book came out just in time for the Olympics this year. It seems as if David’s intention in Rio is not just to get the gold, but to praise the Lord.

This encouraged me in my conviction to praise the Lord not only in the privacy of my heart or at church on Sunday.

The problem today isn’t that there are so few Christians.  The problem today is so few Christians praise Jesus out in public.

If you are a Christian reading this you were saved for the PURPOSE OF PRAISE. 

As 1 Peter 2:9 says this is why Jesus made you one of his people:

“That you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

The word “proclaim” here means to get the message out.  To declare it abroad and make it widely known.  This is what David Boudia does. In his interview. On his website. Even by writing his book.  He may not be a pastor or a preacher but as a Christian, he is a proclaimer of Jesus Christ.

If you are a Christian reading this you have a PERSONAL STORY OF PRAISE. 

Every Christian comes equipped with a built in way to praise the Lord, by sharing our testimony: our personal story of how Jesus saved us.

No one can argue with your testimony.  They may not like it.  They may want you to keep it to yourself.  But even the world understands that everyone should be able to tell their story.  This is what every Christian is called to do in 1 Peter 3:15:

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”

The word “make a defense” here is the word we get “apologetics” from.  Unfortunately, many Christians today think apologetics is an intellectual pursuit for professors in a classroom. You have to be very logical and read a lot of books to defend your faith.  But notice what this verse commands us to give a defense for: “for the hope that is in you…” Can you tell the world why you believe in Jesus?  Can you tell what he has done in your life?  Then you can do it!

If you are a Christian reading this you have a PLATFORM OF PRAISE. 

We don’t have to be gold-medal athletes to give God the glory.  According to 1 Corinthians 10:31, we can give him the glory in whatever we do.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

How are you and I using our platform to praise Jesus?

David Boudia is not done using his platform in Rio. On Friday and Saturday he dives in the individual men’s 10 meter platform competition.  Gold medal or no medal, I have a feeling he is going to find a way to give God the glory!

Let the name of the Lord be praised!

2 Responses to “Praising The Lord At The Olympics”

  • Awesome blog Pastor Bobby! I like how you described Christians having a built-in way to praise the Lord with our testimonies. You don’t have to know everything to share your personal story of praise to Jesus Christ! Looking for opportunities to do this today!!

  • Carl Scarpetti

    WOW Pastor Bobby! What an amazing story! Praise God for David Boudia’s and Steele Johnson’s courage in proclaiming their identity in Jesus Christ and giving all the glory to God on an international platform such as the Olympics!

    I am saddened that I did not get a chance to witness this testimony myself; however, I am EXTREMELY encouraged to proclaim my identity in Jesus Christ whenever the opportunity arises and to give him all the glory in my life. The Holy Spirit empowers and emboldens me to share the glory of he who is greater in me than I could ever be without him! Amen!

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