Thursday, June 4, 2009

The first Chinese born Olympic champion

In a Bible study today on Philippians 1, we spoke about how in the Roman world, one would wish someone else "success and happiness". This is true today, as a Christmas card wished my family "a successful and happy 2009".

The Christian hope for life is different. Paul the Apostle wrote to the Christians in Philippi that he laboured for them, and prayed for them. He was the one who first preached the Gospel to them, and he continued to act for their benefit from afar. He says that it was for their "progress and joy in the faith" that he worked.

Progress instead of Success because you never "arrive" as a Christian. Our final chapter is not written in this life, but in the next.

Joy instead of Happiness because the latter is based on circumstances while the former is not, but on an abiding peace and hope.

In the course of our discussion, I made reference to an article on Eric Liddell who was made famous in the American consciousness with the film "Chariots of Fire". Liddell went on to serve as a missionary in China, and died at the end of WW2 in an internment camp. The article describes a fellow Scotsman who locates and marks Liddell's grave, and the impact this has on Liddell's surviving daughter. Here was a man who ran the race!

Photo: Liddell at the 1924 Paris Olympic Games


Chris said...

Hi Cliff, greetings from Daufuskie!

There have been few, if any, more inspiring characters in my movie viewing life than Eric Liddell. And Chariots of Fire has long been one of my favorite movies, I remember quite well seeing on the big screen in 1982. To me the film reeks of what I would call an "utter decency" - such an honorable, Christ centered man was Liddell. He should serve as an inspiration to us all.

Clifford Swartz said...

Thanks for the comment, Chris, and for the hospitality on Daufuskie!

The article is amazing, too, because it rounds out the part of Eric Liddell's life that picks up after the film ends. (Or one could read his biography, I guess!) I found it so striking that he could have boarded the ship with his family -- indeed part of me thinks it was his responsibility to do so -- but he stayed to carry on to minister those who were in China. Amazing.