The Tokyo Olympics are now history. The spirit and demeanor of the event changed dramatically this year because of political unrest all around the world. National pride seemed to be a waning, with more focus on individual accomplishment. The Covid-19 virus certainly impacted every event in some way. Yet the gospel message was presented through the testimony of some very committed athletes.
One such example was the Fiji Rugby team. Now I am not a rugby fan. I know little about the sport. But what I have seen on TV has left a lasting impression: two groups of grown men, physically strong and agile, each determined to out-muscle each other and force their collective will on their opponents. These are real guys in the classic sense. I marvel at these athletes working together as a team. In my opinion, most NFL teams could use these guys on their offensive lines. But that is perhaps a naïve point of view.
Whatever the case, the Fiji Rugby team won a gold medal. I happened to see the last part of the medal ceremony. I thought to myself, “Amazing! These strong, muscular guys are praying and worshiping after being awarded an Olympic gold medal.” Here is how Breakpoint described the medal ceremony: “This was the second Olympic gold for the Fijians. They got on their knees, they prayed to God in thanksgiving, and sang a hymn of praise. It was so beautiful. It’s a traditional tune that contains these words, ‘We have overcome, by the blood of the lamb, and the word of the Lord, we have overcome.’”
When I read that, I knew I had to write this blog. First, I deeply admire these strong, athletic men for defying the cultural narrative so prevalent during the Olympics. “God talk” was carefully monitored and capped. But the guys from Fuji came to the games to collectively witness to their faith. These men played together, united in faith, witnessing to the world of the saving gospel of Jesus. Being culturally and politically correct was not part of their worldview. They were a team of Christian men, and they wanted the world to know that God deserves the glory. How refreshing it was to see their united witness.
Secondly, I love the words from the hymn they sang. As the world watched, these men celebrated, prayed, cried, and worshiped. The words come from Revelation 12:11, when John heard in a loud voice from heaven celebrating the defeat of Satan and his angels, who had “lost their place in heaven” (v. 8). “They overcame him, by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (v. 11).
Thirdly, these men sang their testimony. My impression is that they wanted the world to know that they were “overcomers” in Jesus. John wrote in I John 4:4, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” Wow! On the world stage these men boldly dared to say that Satan has been defeated. We are reminded that we too can be “overcomers.”
Fourth, imagine a rugby team singing about the “blood of the lamb.” We read in Col. 2:15, “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Praise God! During the 2021 Olympics, Jesus’ victory over evil was declared to a world in desperate need of hope. That’s powerful!