When watching the Olympics, I sometimes root for people or teams because they come from my own country. But more often, I cheer for a particular person, irrespective of his or her home country. My enthusiasm is based on the sportsmanlike qualities I see expressed. Provided with more coverage than ever before, people have the opportunity to watch for these kinds of inspiring qualities as much as they could ever want.
Watching doesn't have to be simply a spectator sport. Maybe you won't be throwing the discus or swimming in the 200-meter freestyle. But you can participate - in terms of what you think.
On display during each broadcast of the Olympics will be examples of a magnificent, spiritual nature, which isn't unique just to the participants. It can be expressed in anyone's life. As we watch, we can note what it is we like in an athlete's performance that we might bring out in our own lives.
The Bible says, "Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us" (Heb. 12:1). Consider the "weights" each Olympic athlete had to lay aside in order to compete in Sydney. Distractions like fear, jealousy. Time constraints. And all sorts of physical limitations.
How can someone put aside such weights? In other words, how can you have confidence, generosity, patience, bravery, single-mindedness, grace, etc.?
Here's a comment the Monitor's founder, Mary Baker Eddy, made about that Bible verse: "St. Paul wrote, 'Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us;' that is, let us put aside material self and sense, and seek the divine Principle and Science of all healing" (Science and Health, pg. 20).
"Putting aside material self and sense," if accomplished successfully, isn't some act of human will. It's recognizing that the universal Spirit has made us like itself: spiritual, unflawed, and not limited by any type of physicality. To acknowledge that our real self is spiritual is an effective prayer. It begins to bring the events of your life under the control of divine will - the power of God. Divine Spirit isn't limited by distance or time.
Just as a runner in a marathon goes singlemindedly toward the goal, we can strive to know, to feel, our spiritual nature. The forces around us may want us to stop running in that direction, yet we're actually helping everyone in the world by proving the spiritual freedom everyone has as God's expression. God's image is spiritual and perfect - there's no getting out of it. We might as well run until we get to that goal.
It's fun to find inspiration in how a participant expresses the qualities of God, and then, in your own way, to make an effort to emulate him or her. We're running with God, each one of us. We're in this race to discover our good, spiritual nature. And there are lots of finish lines - countless opportunities to prove that we are victorious in our graciousness, our honesty, our persistence.
Know ye not that they
which run in a race
run all, but one receiveth
the prize? So run, that ye
may obtain. And every man
that striveth for the mastery
is temperate in all things.
Now they do it to obtain
a corruptible crown; but we
I Corinthians 9:24, 25
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