John at Stuff Christians Like>>> uses the biblical examples of Samuel, Samson and David as possible ways to compare Michael Phelps.
But my personal favorite was during the Sunday sermon at our church, when Pastor Dan related his reaction to Michael Phelps making history and winning yet another gold medal on Saturday. As he watched the close race, down to the 1/10th of a second, Dan jumped up out of his seat and shouted, "We Won! USA Won!" To which his wife puzzled, "WE won? What do you mean WE? WE didn't actually do anything."
It was a pretty simple illustration of how Jesus is the one who fights the battle, beats our opponents, and wins the victory. He is the one who has run the race perfectly, and it is credited to US, because we are on His team - we are citizens of Christ's nation and can boldly claim our crown - because He won it for us. Ultimately, we know how the "olympics" of this eartly existance ends - with Jesus on the Throne and his people at His feet - celebrating-worshipping in victory. It's a done deal. Signed, sealed and delivered.
This is an awesome message for me at this season of faith. As I find myself feeling a bit defeated and ineffective at work, I take solace in the FACT that because Jesus Won, I don't have to. I don't need to find my identity in high achievement and superior results. Not that I'm satified with under achieving or poor performance. I strive for excellence and pray for strength that I might glorify God through what I am able to contribute at work and church and home. But, if I don't succeed, I don't need to feel crushed or a loss of who I am at the the core. Because what I do is not who I am. Who I am is what Christ has done for me by paying the penalty for my sin on the cross, dying and then raising to life, to the right hand of the Father. That is the grounding of who I am, and if I remember that, I can remain gracious and loving even when trial or failure lurks. If I am resting in my own ability or works, and I end up failing or not performing well enough, I'm crushed. So, that is why this simple illustration is so profound for me. Jesus Won! I don't have to win to feel like a success.
And for now, we can enjoy some affinity with Michael Phelps and all of his gold medals at Beijing. They are accredited to the USA's Olympic records. But this is not even a vague shadow, not even a blip, in comparison with the eternal life Christ has gained for us on the cross. Jesus Won! May we remain in the knowledge of His grace - that thru Him our record is accredited with victory in all eternity.