Well the 2018 Winter Olympic Games have come and gone. As I have said before, I am a big fan of the games and tried to watch as much as I could. The Americans did well, although maybe not as well as the athletes had hoped, but then that is the nature of any sport.
While watching these games I usually try to think of some life application that could be gleaned. So, thinking back over the events there is one thing that particularly stands out to me about the timed competitions, like skiing and bobsledding. That “thing” is how close together the times were of almost all the competitors. In some events less than a second separated the one who won the gold medal from those who did not medal at all! That’s close!
I am sure that we all have laughed when hearing the old adage, “Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and bad breath.” However, to lose a competition that you have worked years to win by a hundredth of a second must be heartbreaking.
Thinking about this “close” matter a little more I was reminded of an incident that happened during the earthly ministry of Jesus. A scribe was once listening to some conversations of Jesus with his adversaries and was impressed by his answers. That led him to pose a question to the Lord himself. He asked, “Which is the first commandment of all?” (Mark 12:28). Jesus replied with a passage from Deuteronomy 6: “The first of all commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).
The scribe agreed with the words of Jesus saying, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth…” (v. 32f). Jesus then spoke these thought provoking words to the scribe, “You are not far from the kingdom of God” (v. 34).
Obviously, this scribe was “close” to being in God’s kingdom. How? He knew what he had to do to get in. But what was keeping him out? Not committing to practice what he knew! And to our knowledge he never made it inside. Not because he could not- - but because he would not go in.
Perhaps there are others who are close to the kingdom of God even now. Imagine how heartbreaking it would be to miss out on the eternal prize (cf. 2 Timothy 4:8)!