Sunday, 7 September 2008

The Arrival of the Torch

The Olympics is over, the Paralympics has just begun. In preparation, over many months, the torch has been carried through many nations of the world. Although it is a great honour, the individuals who carried the torch were not important. The torch, the flame, representing the ideals of the Olympics, is the focus of attention, as it calls people of all nations to prepare for the coming Games.

However spectacular the Opening Ceremony, the key point that everyone is waiting for is the arrival of the torch and the lighting of the Olympic flame. This is the signal for the beginning of the Games.

Just as the carrying of the torch over many months signals preparation for the Games, so through history we can see the preparation from God for the coming of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and God's kingdom. In people's lives, the torch was not always important, not always paid attention to. But it went on. In history, key events were not always obvious to people at the time, but as we look back we can see the overarching plan, the development of God's purposes to restore His kingdom among men.

In the Old Testament we learn of Abraham, Moses and Israel. God raised them up and made promises to them and to the people of Israel. He gave them Judges and Kings to rule over them. It is when we get to the Gospels in the New Testament that 'the torch arrives'. John the Baptist was the final bearer of the torch, the one who lit the flame when he baptised Jesus, thus launching his ministry.

The great news for us today is that, unlike the Olympic Games, God's kingdom is not only for the elite to participate and the rest to spectate. The kingdom is for everyone to "press on towards the goal to win the prize" (Philippians 3 v14). There is no qualification standard, because no one can reach God's standard on their own. We have to recognise that and turn and accept the gift which Jesus Christ died for, which is free to all.

Also, unlike the Olympic Games, there is no end after a few weeks, and all look forward to the next one in four years. The 'Games' go on, everyone is invited, and the Good News is continually being spread around the world.

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