There it all is – flags being waved rampantly, t-shirts swirled in the air, banners propping up alongside fences, people hugging in excitement – there it all is, the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
At its best, the Olympics represents all that is good in the world: camaraderie, spirit, good-will, excitement, achievement, and much more. The faces of humanity are immense, the interaction and exchange of many cultures, languages, customs, and expressions overwhelming. Does one ever think to sit back and appreciate God’s diverse “living through us” in these amazing ways? Make no mistake, God’s indwelling in the many religions, worldviews, perspectives and even politics of the Olympic Games is, I suspect, a beautiful mosaic of pieces that, taken together, show us that global solidarity is not only possible, but necessary. A theological anthropology that takes into account this ever present global dimension, which affirms and showcases all of humanity’s unique paths to the divine, serves as an important reminder to all of us of God’s pervasive yet engaged workings not only in our life, but in the lives of literally millions of others. Each of us possesses unique gifts and talents that contribute to the one world, global community.
Let me be so bold so as to suggest that the flourishing of all of our collective ways of life – the Buddhist swimmer who cries for her teammate, the Chinese man celebrating with a Christian spectator, an American Olympic mom befriending a Mexican Hindu – is not only about sporting events, but about the intrinsic need in each of us to gain a more perfect understanding and union with not only our immediate surroundings but also with a world that is vast and mystery, calling our name and inviting us routinely to reach out for the more. In doing so, we discover a dimension of our God that is bigger, more expansive, and enlarging than ever before. This is a God I imagine, amongst other things, constitutive of immense connectivity and relationality.
I’m in awe of God’s work through the Olympics. I’m humbled and inspired by God’s explosion of expression. There are countless lives which span many countries, territories, states, and provinces that point towards a God rich in love and compassion, diverse in deeds and understandings, and an entity big enough for all to claim.