I am just getting back adjusted to the rigors of church life after returning from the National Youth Gathering in New Orleans. This gathering held every three years had almost 40,000 youth and volunteers who are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with the main themes of justice, peace and reconciliation. These are the main themes which will be the highlight of the 30th Olympiad, which will be held in a couple of days in the historic city of London.
Our main scriptural emphasis came from Ephesians chapter 2 which further study showed that the Church of Ephesus were cosmopolitan people who would have been comfortable in international gatherings such as the Olympic Games. But even though they have money and power and influence, they feel cut off from a relationship with God. Paul reminds his readers that at one time they were without Christ, aliens and strangers to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world.
This is the solution Paul offers the Ephesians: "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ," he writes. "For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us" (vv. 13-14).
When people come together in London from different races, cultures and nationalities, peace is not going to be found in a spectacular opening ceremony. When people of differing ages, sexes, educational levels, professions and political orientations gather in a church sanctuary, unity is not created by a well-planned service of worship. Real peace requires Jesus, according to Paul. In his flesh he makes different groups into one, and breaks down the dividing wall -- that is, the hostility between them.
Gaining the peace of Christ is not a human achievement, like making it into the Olympics. It is Christ's accomplishment, not ours. Our challenge is not to earn him or deserve him, like a cherished gold medal. Instead, it is to accept him as a gift of God.
Olympic Peace comes through an Olympic Savior. When we put our faith in him, we are invited to join him on the gold-medal platform.
My hope and desire for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is to realize that Christ as the chief cornerstone will make us into a more glorious structure because we are members of the "household of God." Each one of us is a building block in this sacred temple, a structure made out of people of every race, culture and nationality. With Christ as our cornerstone, we stand strong as "a dwelling place for God" (v. 22).
Jesus gives us Olympic peace. Together, we stand as one people at the foot of the cross. We have access to Almighty God. We are joined together as blocks in a holy temple, international in character and united in faith.
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