Dose of Truth
Living for the glory of God
One of my favorite movies is the 1981 classic, “Chariots of Fire,” which tells the stories of two British runners, Harold Abrams and Eric Liddell. Each was a world class competitor and both had won gold medals in the 1924 Olympics. While “Chariots of Fire” is a sports movie, it is ultimately the story of what motivated each man to compete.
The film was a great commercial success, it cost $5.5 million to make but earned $59 million at the box office. But the movie was more than merely profitable, it was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four: Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score. In the British Film Institute’s list of the Top 100 British Films, it is ranked number 19.
To me the most powerful part of the movie was when Liddell refused to run in a Sunday heat for the Olympic event he was thought most likely to win. He believed running on Sunday would dishonor God by breaking the Sabbath. Though I am not convinced he was right, I am amazed by how God used his commitment to do what he believed was right. He would be surprised by how his principled decision has inspired millions.
About a year ago my friend, David Alspaugh, loaned me the book, “St. Louis Sports Folks,” by Tom Wheatly. One of the book’s stories is about Alspaugh’s friend, Jack Graham, who grew up in China where his parents were missionaries. In 1943, during World War II, at the age of 12, he was placed in a Japanese internment camp. Life there was hard; there was never enough food and conditions were primitive.
However, one bright spot in the camp was the man all the children called, Uncle Eric. He was a missionary teacher who had lived in China most of his life and had taken a genuine interest in the children’s morals and morale. He played games with the children and told them stories. Although separated from his own wife and three children, who were in Canada, this brave missionary worked tirelessly to help others.
In case you have not already made the connection, Olympian Eric Liddell was Uncle Eric 20 years later. This incredible hero never lost sight of his goal of honoring God, whether he was competing in the Olympics or serving imprisoned children. His example illustrates the point of the Apostle Paul’s words, “…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31, NLT)
Neither you nor I are likely to ever win an Olympic gold medal, nor be confined in a prison camp, but like the Apostle Paul and Eric Liddell, we can glorify God by unselfishly serving others where we currently live.