But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)
This week the Summer Olympics begin with the opening ceremonies, including a parade of competing nations. This parade enables all the athletes to enter into the main sports venue of the Olympic Games with their nation’s flag and country’s costume prominently displayed. The U.S. can be seen promenading under the red white and blue in outfits designed by Ralph Lauren. Every other country competing has similar outfits depicting some cultural significance. As the athletes assemble and fill the field, billions watching the televised spectacular are filled with national pride.
Thinking of this parade of nations leads me to a question: if Christians, described in God’s word as a holy nation, were also to compete in these athletic endeavors, what costume would they wear? Would the people of God wear the armor of God – a breastplate of righteousness and feet fitted with readiness? Would this royal priesthood wear clerical collars and choir robes? Would the chosen wear T-shirts with clever slogans styled for evangelism? What aspects of the Christian culture is significance? Strikingly, it could be said that the culture of Christianity has no distinctiveness: it is globally diverse, economically broad-based and stylistically multifaceted.
The wonderful thing about the people of God is that they are not defined by the people (where they live or what they do) but rather by their God. The holy nation of God is culturally distinct in their relationship to God. Christians are a people of one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God. These distinctive qualities of Christian culture don’t fit neatly on a flag or in a special outfit. That being said, the radiance of knowing the truths that define the people of God is as unmistakable as the radiance of those Olympians that stand at the highest pedestal and hear their national anthem. When one knows that they are part of God’s people it affects how they experience life.
It is my hope and prayer that we all enjoy rooting for our home country, and I challenge those reading this to do one thing more while watching the athletes compete. I challenge you to pray for these competitors and the nations they represent – some hospitable to the gospel and others hostile. If you need more information, check out http://www.operationworld.org for a country list and national prayer points. As we view the splendor of the London Games, may we also further His kingdom through prayer.