What Makes a Champion? 勝者や英雄になるには?

We’re right in the middle of the Olympic Games and if you’re anything like me you are following the events very closely and enjoying the contests and the victories and the backstories and the afterstories.

So let’s start today with a short Olympic Quiz.
Who are these Olympic champions?

  1. Michael Phelps
  2. Kohei Uchimura
  3. Kyle Chalmers
  4. Katie Ledecky
  5. Katinka Hosszú
  6. Mashu Baker
  7. Simone Biles
  8. Usain Bolt
  9. Ku Bon-chan
  10. Me

Honestly, I’m so impressed with these people.
They are talented. They are disciplined. They are focussed. They are true sporting champions.
And I was wondering, what does the Bible say about champions?
Who are the real champions in God’s eyes? The answer might surprise you.
Hebrews chapter 11 is sometimes called the ‘Faith Hall of Fame’.
It’s in this chapter that we are given a summary list of all the champions of the faith and the reasons why God holds them in such high regard.
Now, it’s a long list, so I’m just going to draw your attention to a few.
It starts with Adam’s son Abel who offered a righteous sacrifice to God.
Others include Noah, who spent about 70 years building the ark,
Abraham who didn’t even hold back from God his promised son,
Moses who stood up to Pharaoh and led the people out of Egypt,
as well as Gideon, Samson, David, Samuel and so on.
These were the biggies; the great men and women of God.
They performed feats of Biblical proportions and were used by God in outstanding ways.

They were God’s champions.

So where does that leave us?
We’re not likely to be parting waters or calling down fire from the sky.
Are we the also-rans? Are we the insignificant minnows of the faith?
The Faith Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11 continues and, we could even argue, builds up:
“Others were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” Hebrews 11:35-40
ほかの者は、更にまさったいのちによみがえるために、拷問の苦しみに甘んじ、放免されることを願わなかった。 なおほかの者たちは、あざけられ、むち打たれ、しばり上げられ、投獄されるほどのめに会った。 あるいは、石で打たれ、さいなまれ、のこぎりで引かれ、つるぎで切り殺され、羊の皮や、やぎの皮を着て歩きまわり、無一物になり、悩まされ、苦しめられ、(この世は彼らの住む所ではなかった)、荒野と山の中と岩の穴と土の穴とを、さまよい続けた。 さて、これらの人々はみな、信仰によってあかしされたが、約束のものは受けなかった。 神はわたしたちのために、さらに良いものをあらかじめ備えて下さっているので、わたしたちをほかにしては彼らが全うされることはない。ヘブライ人への手紙11:35-40
God’s view of heroics is very, very different from that of the world.
God’s champions are not made from swimming very quickly or running very fast or jumping very high.
They are proved by their faithfulness.
And that might mean building an ark or it might mean holding the hand of someone who is hurting or gently speaking the gospel to someone that no-one else cares about.
I’d like to share with you some people who are champions to me – both public figures I don’t know personally and others I know well.

Eric Liddle. Eric was my favourite Olympian of all time.
エリック リドル。 エリックは私が大好きなオリンピック選手です。
A gold medal winner and a world record holder, he was a champion both on the track
and off.
You know the story: “I believe God made me for a purpose but He also made me fast; and when I run, I feel His pleasure.”
He died in an internment camp in China where he was serving as a missionary.
Eric was a true champion of God and when he died, all of Scotland mourned.
Jim Cymbala.
ジム シンバラ
Pastor at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. ブルックリン タバナクル教会の牧師です。
Spent his young adult life ministering in poverty and hardship in the very worst parts of New York to the very least desirable people.
He serves there faithfully to this day though his ministry has grown a bit. [image]
He is a champion of God.

John Borrow.
ジョン ボロウ
You wouldn’t know John.
John and I went to the same youth fellowship.
He is a ship captain and with his family, he has surrendered all to Jesus to serve Him with the Mercy Ships off the coast of Africa.
I want to show you a short clip to show you exactly what his sacrifice is achieving for people and for the Kingdom of God.
[clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWL4MujgWRw] John has worked through a lot of personal hardship to serve in this capacity.
He is a champion of God.
Pete’s my brother.
He has really battled over the last number of years with mental health issues.
It’s been really hard for him and his family.
But through it all, he has remained faithful to God and as he has worked to manage his life, he has continued to seek God.
As a result, God has given him a vision and is now using him to reach men who have felt left behind by the church in one way or another.
He has started a small men’s group called ‘God’s Garage’, which meets in his garage, and there they talk, read the Word, pray and get back in touch with God.
God’s garage is slowly reaching more and more men. Pete is a champion of God.
It doesn’t matter if you’re serving God on an international scale or a garage scale.

What makes people true champions is their faithfulness to God’s call upon their lives.
We have been looking at the Psalms this summer and today I would like to share with you Psalm 86.
I have chosen this Psalm because it is the prayer of a champion.
It’s a moderately long psalm so I’m going to do something quite unusual and simply read every second verse.
You can read it in its entirety for homework.

Psalm 86 is the prayer of a man who is really struggling in life but his faith in God remains rock solid.
As such this prayer is a model for us as we live out our lives. Meditate on this as I read it.
Psalm 86
1 Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
3 have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long.
5 You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.
7 When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.
10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.
11 Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
13 For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead.
15 You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and have mercy on me; show your strength in behalf of your servant;
save me, because I serve you just as my mother did.
第 86 篇
1 主よ、あなたの耳を傾けて、わたしにお答えください。わたしは苦しみかつ乏しいからです。
3 主よ、わたしをあわれんでください。わたしはひねもすあなたに呼ばわります。
5 主よ、あなたは恵みふかく、寛容であって、あなたに呼ばわるすべての者にいつくしみを豊かに施されます。
7 わたしの悩みの日にわたしはあなたに呼ばわります。あなたはわたしに答えられるからです。
10 あなたは大いなる神で、くすしきみわざをなされます。ただあなたのみ、神でいらせられます。
11 主よ、あなたの道をわたしに教えてください。わたしはあなたの真理に歩みます。心をひとつにしてみ名を恐れさせてください。
13 わたしに示されたあなたのいつくしみは大きく、わが魂を陰府の深い所から助け出されたからです。
15 しかし主よ、あなたはあわれみと恵みに富み、怒りをおそくし、いつくしみと、まこととに豊かな神でいらせられます。
16 わたしをかえりみ、わたしをあわれみ、あなたのしもべにみ力を与え、あなたのはしための子をお救いください。

This believer is poor and needy; he is desperate and in distress.
Yet he calls to God, trusting that he is merciful, forgiving, good, abounding in love, responsive, great, marvellous in deed, faithful, compassionate, gracious, strong and holy.

This faithfulness sounds just like the heroes of the faith mentioned at the end of Hebrews 11.
So when we pray, when we are struggling, when we step out in faith, when we’re enjoying fruitfulness,
ですから、私達が祈るときも、また苦悩するときも、信仰から離れてしまったときも、信仰を楽しんでいるときも、let’s remember the wonderful nature of God, let’s worship the wonderful nature of God and let’s trust in this wonderful nature of God.
Because that is what champions of the faith do.