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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Going for the Gold

Evidence of victory - the Gold Medal of an Olympian victory.  I haven't caught much of the Winter Games so far, but I know the Canadians won against the Swedes in hockey because my Canadian relatives posted the win!  It amazes me to see an 18-year hold slalom down the hillside at rocket speed and come across in gold medal timing.  The games are tough, the competition among the best of the best, and the changes of winning only tenths of a second away from losing.  As the games draw to a close, the winners head for the winner's circle - taking their place on the first, second and third place platforms.  The Gold Medal is the prized and most coveted of all - one which holds the greatest honor and reward.  Yet, so few actually achieve such a huge honor - though many will have worked with unceasing dedication to their sport.  One evidence of victory display is the prized medal - another evidence of victory display is the transformation of a life by the sacrificial effort of another. The one medal is placed in a trophy case for display and reflection.  The other "medal" is placed into a life for it to continually display and to give a renewable reflection of the one at work within.

I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.  (I Peter 1:6-7 MSG)

It is our faith which becomes a sign of the work within.  As it grows, we stand more confident - not self-assured because we have trained well, but "Christ-assured" because he has made us strong on every side.  Over the weekend, our pastor began a new series in which the first topic of exploration was this idea of being in the world, but not really of it.  He used an awesome illustration which has spoken to me over and over so far this week.  Here it is: We can either be thermostats or thermometers.  Thermometers adjust to the environment they are within - just becoming hot or cold to whatever they are influenced the most by.  Thermostats, on the other hand, adjust the environment to where they are.  They make the environment change - rather than being changed by the environment.

I think this is important as we study this idea of our faith being proven - coming out strong and standing solid.  Why?  Simply put - our faith is on display for others to see - it is there to act as a thermostat - not as a thermometer.  We effect others by what is on display in our lives - Christ puts much on display in our live circumstances and our responses to these.  As we respond, the way we respond is registered and becomes a means of validating the work we are engaged in alongside Christ.  

Medal adorn the man - but are short lived.  When the next person breaks the record in the next four years, the medal will all but be talked about as in past tense.  The "gold refined in fire" God desires for our lives will adorn our lives with a permanence of beauty and an enduring quality of Christ-like character.

Not sure what "medals" you might be pursuing today - suffice it to say I think most are pursuing the gold.  But it isn't the metal of the medal which makes the man, but the fiber within (the character we put on display in pursuit of the medal).  Just sayin!